Currently, many homebuilders are selling energy-efficient homes. These homes vary in their energy-efficiency and energy-efficient features. Like any other product, new homes, marketed as energy- efficient, can be a little bit more energy efficient than a typical new home or a lot more energy-efficient than a typical new home.
The degree to how energy-efficient a home really is can be quantified. A common designation, for the degree to how energy-efficient a home is built, is a HERS number. HERS is short for Home Energy Rating System. A HERS number is, in some ways, like a miles per gallon sticker for an automobile. It measures how energy-efficient the product is, relative to other similar products.
A HERS number is generated by incorporating all of the energy efficient features–insulation ,windows, HVAC, lighting, kitchen and laundry appliances, roof and siding color, and air-leakage. All of this information is input into a computer program and a HERS number is generated.
If a homebuilder decides to build an energy-efficient home, and get a HERS number for the home, the consumer is easily able to determine how energy-efficient the new home really is.
A HERS number falls on a scale, ranging from 0 to 100—and beyond. From an energy-efficiency perspective, a zero is about as energy efficient as it gets. A home that gets a zero is a home that requires no purchased energy or consumes very little energy. These homes are usually powered by solar energy or another source of renewable energy, generated on-site.
A home that gets a HERS score of 100 is a home that is built to the minimum standards of the energy (efficiency) code. Most homes built today, that are marketed as energy-efficient, have HERS scores in the 60’s and 70’s. The average existing home in the United States, if it were tested, would get a HERS score of about 130.
When one purchases an energy-efficient home from a builder, they should be given enough information from the builder to make an informed decision as to how energy efficient the home really is. And the energy-efficiency information should consist of the energy-efficient features of the home and the HERS number.