How Do you Get a Low HERS Score?

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the industry standard for measuring a home’s energy efficiency. It is also the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), which was founded in 1995 as an independent, non-profit organization established this rating system. Their goal is to help homeowners reduce the cost of their utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient. A net zero energy home scores a HERS Index of zero. Each one-point decrease in HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy consumption compared to the HERS Reference Home. The Reference Home is a design modeled home of the same size and shape as the house you are scoring. The lower the number, the more energy efficient the home. A typical resale home rated 130 on the HERS Index while a standard new home built in 2006 rated at 100. What does that mean? A home with a HERS Index score of 70 is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home. A home with a HERS Index score of 130 is 30% less energy efficient than a standard new home. A HERS rating of 50 means your home uses 50% less energy than a new home built to code.

When you first saw the acronym HERS, like me, you might have been thinking it had something to do with belonging to her. “It is hers. It belongs to her.” When you are married pretty much everything belongs to her. I remember when I was married, I spent six months trying to convince my wife to let me get one of those new, flat screen, 60 inch, high definition televisions. A TV that I could proudly invite people over to watch the Superbowl on, or the Olympics. And finally, she gave in and let me buy one. As a compromise, I could watch absolutely nothing that I wanted to watch. Nothing! She was watching everything. She always had the remote control on her person. She had a little holster for it on her side. She would whip it out like she was in a gunfight. She was watching TV that I did not want to watch, like Lifetime, or Oxygen, and when she was done watching she would put the remote where I could not get it. Like in her purse, which was with her at the store. Yep, the TV was HERS!

Many cities and states across the country are requiring some level of HERS ratings.  South Hampton, NY requires a HERS rating of 70 with larger homes having to be 50 or less.  Colorado is publishing HERS ratings in the MLS listings. Government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognize the HERS Index as an official verification of energy performance.

Read more in this descriptive article to learn more about HERS ratings:

There are several cost-effective ways to help you achieve a lower HERS rating. Some examples are using solar, simplifying your roof design, using deeper overhangs, reducing ceiling heights, making sure your HVAC equipment is in conditioned space, and minimizing the number of windows. But the best way to help you achieve your desired HERS score is to use efficient framing methods such as SIPs. SIPs excel when using quantifiable performance metrics such as HERS, with ratings typically below 50. SIPs provide a better R-value than stick framing over the entire wall surface (whole-wall R-value) through the elimination of lumber, which causes thermal bridging. SIP homes are 15 times tighter than stick-frame construction.

I purchased a house recently. Not a bird house. A human house. I used to live in an apartment, but now I have all these fancy rooms, like a laundry room. A separate room just for the laundry of items. Right next to that, the guest bathroom. I cannot even go in there. It is for guests. After a while I was like, “Forget this. I am going to see what is going on in there.” So, I cut a big hole in the laundry room. It goes right into the medicine cabinet. In the guest bathroom. It is a great way to scare guest that are using my guest bathroom.

Why care about any of this? An energy-efficient home is not just better for the environment, it is more comfortable and cost-effective for residents. After mortgages, the biggest expense homeowners face is typically climate control-related: heating, cooling, and water heating. A home that conserves heat, for example, will be much easier to live in come winter. If you are a homeowner, by getting a HERS score you might discover your home is leaking energy in places that never occurred to you to check. And if you are selling your home, low HERS scores are great for a home’s resale value. Homes with low HERS scores and good energy efficiency can demand a higher price. So, if you are going to build a home, look at getting a HERS rating. A great way to get a lower score is to build it with SIPs. Just make sure you have more than one remote control for the TV.


About the author
Jeff Beason, MBA is the South West Regional Territory Manager for Premier Building Systems. To contact Jeff you please fill out this contact form and Jeff will be in touch.

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