What is a HERS Rating?

The price of utilities is one of those things that never seems to cut us a break. Every winter the price of gas goes up and every summer the price of electricity follows suit. With the costs continually rising what can we do about it?

Energy Efficiency! There are quite a few perspectives in regards to this topic. Some people seek out energy efficiency to save the planet. Some are looking out for their kids. Others, simply want to save a little money. No matter which boat you are in, the best way to judge the energy efficiency of your home is to look at the HERS rating.

Something to note: if the home is preexisting and hasn’t had a HERS rating done during construction, you can get whats called an Energy Audit to figure out how efficient your home is. Afterwards, you will receive a report that details the steps you could take to improve your rating.

A HERS inspection is something done throughout construction and it evaluates the builders processes and systems while the home is being built. Throughout the building process they will conduct several inspections to ensure it doesn’t have any energy issues such as duct leakage or unexpected thermal losses.

So what is HERS? The acronym stands for Home Energy Rating System. It is a rating given to your home to indicate the estimated energy efficiency. Basically, how much heat or cold transfer exists in your home. The higher the rating the worse the home is for energy efficiency.

On average (depending on where you live) most older resale homes have a rating of around 140 on the scale. Most builders in the area will build to code or anywhere between 20 – 25 points under. Certain builders are what is called High Performance Builders and maintain a much lower rating which would save you big bucks in the long run.

High Performance Builders use what is called advanced framing techniques and utilize different materials throughout the building process to ensure they meet the quality of home HERS inspectors expect. In fact, if a HERS inspector encounters something that doesn’t meet their standards they will require the builder to fix it before proceeding with the home.

So what does this mean to you? If you want to protect the environment, this is the home for you. Since your home doesn’t require the same amount of energy to heat or cool it you are pulling less power from your local power plant.

If you are looking out for your children, other than the benefit listed previously, the resale of HERS rated High Efficiency homes is higher. This is because a home built by a High Performance Builder will surpass all of the current codes and any of the ones in the near to mid future making your home more valuable as it competes with future new-builds.

And, finally, those of you who are concerned with saving money, even though your utility bill never catches a break, your wallet will. A home with a HERS rating of 55 will save the home owner around $1,800 a year on energy savings (taken from local market data). Sure, this number is from a HERS certificate from a home in my area and since the energy cost savings is based on local utility rates, I recommend you check with a builder or realtor in your area.

Owning a home is the American dream, and with so many builders out there, it pays to do your research and find one who advertises High Performance Building. Make sure they use the HERS inspections throughout the building process and that you get a HERS certificate at closing. It will lower your utility costs, increase your resale value, and if you add solar panels potentially take you off the grid (if your rating is low enough). Wouldn’t it be nice to generate your own power and not have to worry about a utility bill at all?