How the Home Energy Rating System Helps Charlotte Area Homeowners

June 25, 2015
Ross and Witmer

When it comes time to buy a new car or appliance, you probably place efficiency high on your priority list. But what about the efficiency of a new home? Multiple components come together to determine a home energy rating, so it takes more effort to determine how efficient the entire package is. Still, Charlotte-area homeowners find it’s worth the effort for several reasons. Learn more about home energy ratings and why they’re beneficial.

What Is a Home Energy Rating?

This rating tells you how well your home performs compared to “standard” new homes. It takes various home functions into account, including heating and cooling, water heating, lighting and home appliances.

You can hire a home energy rater to assess your home and determine its energy rating. Specific information about problem areas, such as leaky ductwork, high air infiltration rates and poor attic insulation, helps you pinpoint exactly where your home needs to improve.

Your home also receives a number on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, the official standard measurement of home efficiency. This index is a linear scale with 100 representing a standard home. Each point on the scale represents a 1 percent change in energy efficiency.

Ratings above 100 indicate inefficient homes while anything less than 100 is considered energy efficient. A HERS Index score of 0 means the home produces as much energy as it consumes. Ratings can even go into the negatives if the home produces more energy than it needs, selling back excess electricity to the grid to be used elsewhere.

Why Was the HERS Index Created?

Since utility bills are among the highest costs homeowners pay each month, it makes sense to take a home’s energy efficiency into account when house hunting. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) created the HERS Index so home buyers could comparison shop for homes based on energy efficiency. RESNET’s standards are recognized by the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and mortgage lenders.

How Do Home Energy Ratings Help Homeowners and Buyers?

It’s good to know how your home’s energy consumption compares with others, but the benefits go well beyond simply being interesting. Seek out an energy rating for your home to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Energy savings – If you’re house hunting, look for properties with a low HERS Index score. Buying an energy-efficient home will result in energy savings from day one, which can help pay for any extra investment you made upfront in the coming years.
  • Tax incentives – Knowing a home’s HERS Index score before you buy can help you qualify for energy efficiency tax incentives from Energy Star. On top of energy savings, these incentives can really pay off.
  • Energy efficient mortgage (EEM) – When you buy a new home with a strong rating, an EEM can help you qualify for a higher loan amount and possibly even negate the down payment.
  • Home value – Looking to sell your home? Have a home energy rater assess your home and make suggested energy efficient upgrades to achieve a better home energy rating. Advertising a low HERS Index score could help you sell your home at a higher price.

Whether you’re looking to get into a more comfortable, energy-efficient house or you want to make your existing home more competitive on the market, a home energy rating is certainly worth pursuing. Even if you’re not looking to buy or sell, making your home more efficient results in energy savings, as well as the chance to qualify for tax incentives. It’s a win-win situation that more homeowners are coming to appreciate.

For more information on the home energy rating system, check out Ross & Witmer’s efficiency assessment and testing services or call us at 704-392-6188. We provide home energy audits to identify air leaks, areas with poor insulation, appliance efficiency issues, duct leaks and more. Once we perform an assessment on your home, you’ll know where to focus your efforts to achieve a more energy efficient home.

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