Home energy ratings or HERS ratings – established by RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network), a not-for-profit organization established to provide national standards for measuring the energy efficiency of a home performed by a certified home energy rater is a detailed analysis and measurement of the home’s energy characteristics, such as insulation levels, window efficiency, the heating and cooling system efficiency, the solar orientation of the home, and the water heating system. The analysis includes performance testing using a blower door test for air leakage and duct leakage, and infrared thermal imaging.

Ratings are used for both and new and existing homes.

In new home construction a rating can be used to verify energy performance for the ENERGY STAR homes program, energy efficient mortgages, and energy code compliance.

Eligible builders, who build an energy efficient home, under the provision for energy efficient homes, can qualify for tax a credit of up to $2,000. The home must show it uses 50 percent less energy for heating and cooling than that of a comparable home constructed in accordance with the standards of the 2004 Supplement to the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code. It must also have building envelope component improvements providing a level of heating and cooling energy consumption that is at least 10 percent below that of a comparable home. Go to http://www.natresnet.org/taxcredits/ for more information about builder tax credits.

There are two types of ratings:

• Projected ratings – Ratings performed prior to the construction of a home or prior to the installation of energy improvements to an existing home.

• Confirmed ratings – Ratings completed using data gathered from an on-site inspection, which could include performance testing of the home.

The data is entered into a RESNET accredited computer program which calculates the data to provide a HERS rating score between 1 and 100, depending on its relative efficiency. An estimate of the home’s energy costs is also provided in the report.

In an existing home, an energy rating can provide homeowners looking to reduce their home’s energy usage, specific areas to concentrate their efforts for improving the home’s energy rating. This information can then be used to acquire an energy mortgage to offset the cost of improvement.

Energy Mortgages

An energy mortgage is a mortgage that credits a home’s energy efficiency in the home loan. For an energy efficient home, for example, it could mean giving the home buyer the ability to buy a higher quality home because of the lower monthly costs of heating and cooling the home. For homes in which the energy efficiency can be improved, this concept allows the money saved in monthly utility bills to finance energy improvements.

There are two types of energy mortgages:

• Energy Improvement Mortgage – Finances the energy upgrades of an existing home in the mortgage loan using monthly energy savings

Energy Efficient Mortgage – Uses the energy savings from a new energy efficient home to increase the home buying power of consumers and capitalizes the energy savings in the appraisal.