A HERS Energy Rating is very much like a car's MPG and is basically a score of the house's energy efficiency and estimated annual cost for heating, cooling, water heating, lights & appliances. A HERS Rating typically includes consulting, plan review and software modeling, interim inspections during construction, performance testing at final plus certifying paperwork and reports.
Dozens of other reports can be generated including detailed energy features, tons of greenhouse gas emissions and/or reductions, code compliance, tax credit reports, HVAC sizing, air tightness, mechanical ventilation, etc.
Energy ratings are approved by EPA for certifying ENERGY STAR Home compliance, DOE for certifying NetZero homes, the IRS for tax credits, HUD for energy improvement mortgages, all the states for energy code compliance.
Over two million homes have been energy rated in the U.S.
What does an energy rating include?
Energy ratings include:
Defining goals (e.g. code compliance, ENERGY STAR Home certification, low HERS Index, tax credits, good air quality, etc.)
Review or assistance with the house plans to ensure best practices in construction are specified
Modelling the house in the energy rating software to estimate annual operating costs, energy code compliance, projected HERS Index, HVAC sizing, and more
Review of manual J for sizing, verifying HVAC efficiencies,
Consult on mechanical ventilation if it appears it may be warranted
• Pre-drywall inspection to ensure Grade I insulation, air sealing where needed, exhausts fans ducted to outside
Test duct leakage, whole house leakage, and mechanical ventilation (if installed) at final
Test exhaust fans and house pressures to ensure balance, comfort and even temperatures
Final energy rating reports
What does it cost?
Costs can start at less than $500 for production builders building the same plan over and over. The cost of energy rating McMansions with multiple mechanical systems may range up to $1,500.
Sometimes it costs nothing. The energy rater can often save the builder more than the cost of the rating by pointing out over-sized air conditioners that, when properly sized, can save thousands of dollars. As we build houses tighter and tighter, energy raters can also help reduce call backs by pointing out potential ventilation issues before they turn into problems. Energy raters grade the quality of insulation installation and report problems before it is covered up.
What is health and safety worth?
Builders who get their houses energy rated often come to think of the Energy Raters as their QA team. Raters measuring bathroom vent fans for air flow may find no air flow because the dampers were installed upside down or a vent hood that should be ventilating to the outside is recirculating the back into the house which is not good, particularly if the houses built tight and there are combustion by-products from the gas range. Not good. Raters find those things.