What is HERS?
Many people are wondering…what is HERS and why are they hearing it mentioned more and more? HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System and it is a nationally recognized industry standard for measuring a home’s energy performance. A HERS Index or Rating is the number on the HERS scale indicating the inspected, calculated and measured energy efficiency the home is currently producing. For example, if your home was a car you were looking to purchase; you may look at how many miles per gallon it gets. Now you can look at a HERS rated home and know how energy efficient the home is going to be. The lower the HERS Index Score number, the more energy efficient the home will be.
The US Department of Energy determined a typical resale home score’s 130 HERS Index Score while a home built to the 2004 International Energy Conservation code is awarded a rating of 100. A HERS Index Score of 0 means the home is using as much energy as it produces. This is also known as a Net Zero Home. Most Net Zero homes generate electricity through solar panels (aka Photovoltaic – PV Systems) even though they are still connected and using the public utility grid. When the home’s system is producing more electricity than the home needs, the excess is returned to the utility’s power grid. The homeowner then receives a financial credit (usually on the next utility bill) for the excess electricity.
A HERS Rater is the licensed and certified professional by an accredited Home Energy Rating Provider (http://www.energy.ca.gov/HERS/providers.html). The HERS Rater is a third party inspector that can conduct inspections and evaluations of home’s energy features and develops a home’s energy rating score (HERS Rating or HERS Index Score) in addition to making recommendations for energy efficient improvements. A HERS Rater must be a third party. For example, a HVAC Company cannot also be the HERS Rater conducting inspections on their own work. The HVAC Company and the HERS Rater must be two separate companies owned by different people.
The reason why you are starting to hear about HERS more is because today’s building code mandates every new home is tested by a third party HERS rater. Every new home must meet the latest minimum energy efficient building code requirements (also known as Title 24). Title 24 covers improved safety, sustainability, maintaining consistency, new technology and construction methods. Some of the standards include better windows, insulation, lighting, air conditioning systems and other features that reduce energy consumption. There are mandated regulations that must be met in addition to every city and/or county may have additional minimum energy efficient requirements. Today’s government inspectors are mandated to ensure that the work was verified by a licensed third party HERS rater and documented properly. A new home that is built and verified today, that meets the bare minimum Title 24 requirements, is considered to have a HERS Score of 100. In California, the energy code is being updated every three years to reduce the amount of energy a home is allowed to use. The 2013 Title 24 Code is now in effect and new construction today will have to be 25% more energy efficient than a home built under the previous 2008 code making homes under the new code have a 75 HERS Index Score or better. California’s goal by the year 2020 is that all new home construction will be required to be net zero homes and all electric utilities and service providers are to get 33% of their energy from renewable sources like solar and wind. In addition, many alterations and additions now must meet today’s code. If you want to learn more, visit: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/training/ or contact our office.