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A home energy rating is a tool to let you know how much energy a home uses before you buy or rent it. Many times people receive a very unwelcome surprise after they sign a lease or mortgage. They do not have any idea what the cost of owning the home will be. They receive their first winter or summer utility bill and enter a state of shock.
When you purchase a new car or truck there is a sticker on the window. That sticker gives you the EPA mileage rating. That way you are not surprised after the first tank of gas. All new home appliances sold in the USA are required to have a yellow energy guide sticker on them. The sticker gives you a comparison of the efficiency of that appliance to all similar appliances.
Isn't it funny that we have ratings on those things but we normally don't look for one on our home which is probably the most important investment of our lives?
The HOME ENERGY RATING SYSTEM (HERS) is a voluntary system. The system has benefits for all types of users.
The homeowner can make energy saving improvements and be rewarded for it. A more energy efficient home has a higher rating and also a higher monetary value.
Realtors and builders can identify and use energy saving features to sell the homes.
Banks and mortgage companies can accept higher qualifying ratios for buyers of higher rated homes. This is possible because the prospective buyer will have to spend less to operate the home and therefore will have more money to pay the mortgage. There are even special mortgages called ENERGY EFFICIENT MORTGAGES.
The HERS index compares a home to an identical size and shape home that meets the ENERGY CONSERVATION CODE. The reference home has a score of 100. For every 1% reduction in total energy consumption, the score is lowered by 1 point. The lowest score is 0 and is for a home that has a net energy consumption of zero.
The score takes into account the heating, cooling, water heating, lighting, appliances, and onsite energy production to come up with the total energy consumption.
A practical use of the HERS INDEX is to compare the scores of homes when you are looking to buy or rent. A smaller score means you will have to spend less to operate the home.
The score is a simple way of "looking under the hood" before you buy!