Consumers looking for new appliances or cars have the advantage of the EnergyGuide label or miles-per-gallon (MPG) sticker to comparison-shop for models based on energy efficiency. Now homebuyers can do the same with Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index scores. A home’s HERS Index Score tells prospective buyers how energy efficient that home is in comparison to similar ones, enabling them to make better-informed buying decisions.
Developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), the HERS Index was introduced in 2006 and is the nationally recognized system for inspecting, testing and calculating a home’s energy performance. Government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all accept HERS Index scores as an official verification of energy performance.
Issuing a Home with a HERS Index Score
To get a HERS Index Score, a home must be rated for energy performance. This is done through an energy rating, which is essentially a comprehensive home energy performance assessment. This information is then compared to a “reference home”, which is a design-modeled home of the same size and shape as the actual home. The reference home meets all the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) requirements and is rated as energy efficient. It is issued with a default HERS Index Score of 100. Homes with HERS Index scores of 100 or lower are considered energy efficient; the lower the score, the more energy efficient the home.
Ask for the HERS Index Score Before You Buy!
Many builders are already using HERS Index scores as a marketing tool for their homes. The HERS Index website features a section that lists RESNET EnergySmart Builders, who are committed to having their homes rated for energy performance and issued with HERS Index scores. Also, in recognition of the growing demand for energy efficient homes, increasing numbers of homeowners are getting HERS Index scores for their homes before putting them on the market. Many multiple listing services (MLS) too are beginning to list HERS Index scores.
Knowing a home’s HERS Index Score allows a buyer to better understand the long-term costs of owning the home. Outside of the monthly mortgage payments, the biggest household expenditure is the energy bill, so a lower HERS Index Score would mean a more energy efficient – and therefore more affordable – home. To learn more about energy ratings and HERS Index scores, talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater.