What is a HERS Rating, and What are the Benefits?

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There are always questions from builder’s regarding the use and return on investment when they consider using a HERS rating or HERS rating based program on their new homes. 

Here is an explanation of why it is the right thing to do, not just for the builder, but for the builder’s clients as well! 

The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is a not-for-profit, membership corporation that is governed by a Board of Directors.

Formed in 1995, RESNET’s task was to develop national standards for home energy ratings and to create a market for home energy rating systems and energy mortgages. RESNET is a nationally recognized standard-making body for building energy efficiency rating and certification.

Builders use the HERS Certification for marketing the energy performance of their homes. 

The primary users are new home builders, contractors that are tapping into the emerging retrofit market, Federal government agencies; including the IRS for tax credit qualification, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for ENERGY STAR labeled homes program, and the U.S. Department of Energy for the Building America and National Builders Challenge programs.

Across the nation, rating programs, in partnership with the housing industry, are forging the public and private partnerships required for successful home energy rating systems.

The technical, program and marketing assistance required for this effort is provided by RESNET (1).  Code alternative measures such as the Energy Rating Index (ERI), combined with the recent efforts by RESNET and partners such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), have combined efforts to create a unified standard for building envelope testing. 

These measures have helped promote and has enhanced RESNET’S position as the leader in energy efficiency home measurement and certification. After years of development and fine tuning, the RESNET HERS rating is the basis for most of the Energy Efficient home programs in the US today.

The RESNET Home Energy Rating System Index or HERS Index is the housing industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. It’s also the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance, based on the RESNET Standards, and modeled and inspected by certified HERS Home Energy Raters. 

The Home Energy Raters are certified by testing and oversight, including rigorous quality assurance, and all HERS Raters must maintain continuing education and training to remain certified. 

The Home Energy Rater uses complex accredited energy modeling software, combined with checklists and inspections during the construction process to confirm the minimum rated features of a home. This information is used to calculate the homes HERS score. 

The RESNET certified HERS Rater is a valued partner of the builder, and a resource for the builder when considering program specific requirements, code compliance measures, energy efficient construction techniques and HVAC system performance as related to the HERS score, and overall home performance and comfort.  

So, what are the benefits? Here are some of the facts:

 The average home that is certified has a resale value 8 percent higher than the average home (2)
·        The average mortgage defaults were 32% lower on homes considered energy efficient (3)
·        In 2016, 206,583 homes received a HERS Rating. More builders are choosing the RESNET HERS Rating or related above code programs to separate themselves from the code-minimum builders they are competing against (1)
·        Due to improved building envelope performance (the home will gain or lose less heat), the homeowner will experience fewer comfort issues, improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), which leads to less warranty callbacks and homeowner complaints. This is a win-win for both the homeowner and builder alike!
·        Due to the better energy performance of the HERS Rated home, the homeowner has lower overall energy costs associated with heating and cooling, therefore making the home more cost effective to operate.   
·        With a HERS Rated home, the homeowner has more mortgage options, including Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIM) for the existing home buyer, and Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM) for the new home buyer.

What makes the HERS Rated home very attractive to the home buyer is the overall improved comfort, value and return on investment, greater mortgage options, along with the ability to manage actual home energy costs more effectively. 

The combination of improved warranty cost, better customer satisfaction, combined with the market advantages and separation from their competitors, make the HERS Rated home attractive to the new home builder, as well as the customer in the retrofit market looking to improve their energy bills and over all resale value.

References:
(1)     Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) www.resnet.us
(2)     Los Angeles Times article by Kenneth R. Harney August 28, 2011
(3)     University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital, and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) officially released the report on March 19, 2013 via www.marketwire.com.