What Is A HERS Rating And Why Does It Matter?
Most home owners want to have energy-efficient homes, but many of them have no idea how energy efficient their homes currently are or how to improve that efficiency. If you are currently confused or clueless about your home’s level of efficiency, a HERS rating can help. A HERS rating will reveal your home’s current energy weaknesses so that you can make the necessary upgrades in order to save both energy and money. HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System and is a nationally recognized system for rating the energy efficiency of a home.
How Does A HERS Rating Work?
To find out the HERS rating of your home, you can schedule an appointment with a certified Home Energy Rater. They will inspect your home and assess its overall energy-efficiency. Based on their findings they will then issue an energy-efficiency score for your home. A low score indicates a home that is highly efficient, while a high score indicates the opposite.
What Is The Average HERS Score For New Homes?
According to the United States Department of Energy, a standard new home achieves a score of 100 on the HERS index, while typical homes for resale achieve a HERS index score of 130. The lower your home’s HERS score, the more it will appeal to energy-conscious potential buyers. Also, if your home is very energy-efficient then you can demand a higher resale price than you would be able to do otherwise.
To help you understand how your home’s energy-efficiency rating relates to the average home’s, here are a couple examples of different HERS scores and their percentage of efficiency compared to the average new home’s score.
- If your home is scored at a 70 on the HERS index, then it means that your home is 30% more energy-efficient than the average new home. This is a great figure to show potential buyers if you are trying to sell your home. Even if you aren’t trying to sell your home, this degree of energy-efficiency will help you to save a lot of money over time.
- If your home is scored at a 130 on the HERS index, then it means that your home is 30% less energy-efficient than the average new home. This is not the ideal figure to show potential buyers if you are trying to resell your home, and it is an indication that you are losing a lot of money in wasted energy costs over time.
In order to figure out your home’s HERS score, a certified home energy rater will assess the energy efficiency of your home and then compare the resulting number with that of a “reference home”, which is the same size as your home. This ensures that your score is accurate and is relative to the type and size of house that you own.
What Factors Determine Your Home’s HERS Rating?
When a certified home energy rater assesses your home’s energy efficiency, they take a look at the following areas:
- Roofs and ceilings
- All exterior walls (including below grade and above grade)
- Doors and windows
- Floors over cellars and garages
- Ductwork and vents
- Thermostats, water heating systems, and HVAC systems
The energy efficiency of each of these areas will help determine your home’s overall HERS score.
Benefits Of Increasing Your HERS Rating
Besides the obvious benefit of knowing that you are contributing to the health of the environment by not wasting energy, you can also take advantage of the following benefits if you take the steps necessary to increase your home’s HERS rating:
- Decreased energy costs
- Greater comfort
- Higher resell value
When a certified home energy rater assesses your home, they will be able to tell you which areas need improvement and which areas are currently causing you to lose money. As cliché as it may sound, your money might be literally “going out the window” if you have low-quality or inefficient windows installed. Once you find out exactly which areas of your home are not efficient enough, you can then upgrade those areas to give your home a better HERS score.
Another benefit of increasing your home’s energy-efficiency is that your home will be more comfortable as a result. Inefficient homes often fluctuate in temperature because the heating and air conditioning systems can’t keep up with the workload that is placed on them. As a result it can be difficult to keep the temperature at a comfortable level, and it can be even more difficult to keep every room in the home at a consistent temperature. If your home is energy-efficient then you won’t need to worry about this problem.
And finally, if you are planning to resell your home then you can ask for a higher price if your home is energy-efficient. Make sure you tell potential buyers what your HERS rating is in order to differentiate your home from other homes that may be for sale in your area. Buyers are drawn to the cost benefits of energy-efficient homes, so don’t be afraid to brag about your HERS score if it is a good one.
How To Improve Your HERS Score
Now that you know how beneficial it is to have an energy-efficient home, you are probably wondering what steps you need to take to increase your home’s HERS score. Typically you should plan on taking the following steps if you are serious about improving your home’s energy-efficiency:
- Have your home assessed by a certified energy rater to determine your HERS score.
- Find out which areas of your home are the worst when it comes to energy-efficiency.
- Figure out what you need to do to improve the most inefficient areas in your home. This will likely include establishing a budget and replacing things like doors and windows. You may also need to add insulation to your attic, walls, or other areas of your home.
- Once you have made all of the upgrades that you intend to make, have your home re-assessed to determine your new HERS score.
If you slowly improve your home’s energy-efficiency one step at a time, it won’t seem like an overwhelming task and you will have an easier time working the necessary upgrades into your budget. Once you have successfully made your home more energy-efficient, you will immediately start to reap the benefits in the form of increased physical comfort and potentially significant monetary savings.