RESNET HERS Score Gains Popularity Across North America

Last Updated:
Fri, 2018-04-20 09:49
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Professionals working in the new home construction industry may be familiar with the RESNET organization for supplying an index that labels homes on a scale according to energy use. This may seem like a very niche subject, but the HERS Index Score, as it’s called, affects a variety of stakeholders, from builders and general contractors to realtors, appraisers, and even homebuyers and sellers. The whole home performance industry can be summed up within the confines of one number, and that one number plays a very important role for these different groups.

HERS IndexThe Home Energy Rating System (HERS) is an index that says a home with a score of 100 has an average level of energy use, while a home with a score of 0 uses no net purchased energy. The job of a certified HERS Rater is to evaluate various conditions in the home and make an assessment of how a particular home should be scored. The lower the HERS Score, the less energy being used – and lower energy bills for the homeowner.

What’s amazing about the HERS Score is that it’s out there – across the U.S. – but so few consumers actually know about it. I could spend a few hours talking about the programs that require RESNET, but here’s a quick summary of how the RESNET HERS Score could be used across North America.

2015 International Energy Conservation Code

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the national model energy code and is a subset of the building code. All builders must follow building code. The IECC becomes mandatory by a state or local jurisdiction. A new version of the IECC debuts every three years. It’s up to the state or local jurisdiction to decide whether it wants to update to the latest version.

2015 IECC Requires HERS ScoreIn the 2015 version of the IECC, the International Code Council introduced a compliance path for builders. The ICC now accepts the HERS Score as a compliance path for the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. This means that, under the 2015 IECC, all new homes must be rated with a HERS Score of 50 to comply.

Only a handful of states have adopted the 2015 IECC. Texas is one of the few states to commit to 2015 IECC, so with this rampant acceptance of the HERS Score, the demand for certified HERS Raters in TX is set to soar.

Ontario, Canada

CTV News in Ontario has reported that the Ontario government is considering making home energy audits mandatory before posting a property for sale.

During a home energy audit, a qualified professional identifies areas where the home wastes heat and electricity. Taking various factors into consideration, the home energy auditor would label the home with an energy rating, or HERS Score. This would allow home buyers to compare one home to another with respect to energy usage and cost.

The Ontario government has brainstormed ways in which sellers can bypass the $350 cost of the energy audit. One possibility is using revenue from the Cap and Trade carbon taxes to subsidize the audits.

There are some who argue that a low rating could stigmatize a home, lowering its value. Thankfully, it appears as though homeowners in those circumstances would be given the opportunity to make changes to their home and have it re-evaluated.

Initially the plan was to roll out this requirement by the end of 2015, but it’s looking like this deadline has been pushed back.

Louisville, Kentucky

In August 2015, the Greater Louisville Association of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) started using the HERS Index Score, among seven new green building fields, in its listings. The other fields serve to identify ENERGY STAR Home, LEED for Homes, National Green Building Standard certifications, solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, tankless water heaters, and spray foam insulation.

Louisville is not the only district that requires the HERS Score in its property listings; it joins the likes of Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

MLS Listing with HERS Score example

In addition to helping homebuyers find high-performance homes with low energy bills, including the HERS Score on the MLS listings is a big move toward mainstreaming the HERS Index in general. Realtors rely on the MLS to guide potential homebuyers, and appraisers use the service to locate comparable properties. Having this information will make it easier for builders to market their HERS Scores and appraisers to calculate the market value of rated homes.

In Summary

What was once an altruistic business move for those working in the residential construction industry and an opportunity to market themselves in a different way, the RESNET HERS Score has (wisely) been integrated into building code, MLS listings, utility rebates, and federal programs. The RESNET standards are attractive because they help homeowners lower their energy bills and live in a safer, healthier, and more durable home. It only makes sense that the RESNET HERS Score would be included in mandatory building codes too. We’re happy to see this progress throughout the country and happy to help any professionals who want to expand their skill set to include knowledge of the RESNET standards. Call us at 877-753-0853 to learn more.