If you’ve recently been in the market for a new construction home, chances are you’ve seen builders with the Energy Star logo and maybe even seen reference to the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index.
Since 2006, the HERS Index has been used as a means for scoring the energy efficiency of a new or existing home, thus determining whether or not it is an “Energy Star” home. The EPA requires any home trying to qualify for Energy Star status must be built with best practices, tight ducts, and at least 15% more energy efficient than code as shown by a HERS Index score of 85 or less.
According to Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), a home energy rating involves an analysis of a home’s construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home’s plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficiency software package to perform an energy analysis of the home’s design. This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more efficient the home.
For example, in January 2012, McCrerey Fine Homes completed a 7,000 square foot custom farmhouse-style home in Colorado. This green home received an amazing HERS score of 19, which means it performs 81% more efficiently than a home that meets the current energy code requirements. As you might imagine, this is an incredible selling point for any builder.
It’s been said that the average home is responsible for more pollution than a car. Now, keeping with that analogy, it is helpful to think of a HERS score as being similar to a MPG rating on a vehicle. You probably wouldn’t buy a new car without reviewing its MPG, just as you shouldn’t purchase a newly constructed home without reviewing its HERS Index score. After all, buying a home that has earned the Energy Star is like making a down payment on a cleaner world.