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A Complete Guide to HERS Testing

Whether you’re purchasing, selling, or simply trying to reduce your home’s energy costs, adopting energy-efficient practices is great for the environment and your wallet. You can reduce your energy consumption in a number of ways, from getting a new HVAC system to installing a low-flow showerhead. Getting a rating from the Home Energy Rating System is a great first step to understanding your home’s energy consumption and identifying effective fixes. Keep reading to learn more about HERS testing, when you should get your home rated, how much it costs, and the benefits it provides.

What Is HERS Testing and When Should You Get It Done? 

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HERS is an index for calculating how energy efficient a home is. The Residential Energy Services Network originally launched this index in 2006, but since then it has become the industry standard for evaluating a house’s overall energy performance. HERS testing is generally conducted on new or recently renovated homes, particularly when a builder is expected to satisfy certain efficiency standards. Some other instances when HERS scores are beneficial include:

  • If you’re a homeowner and would like to assess how well your property is operating energy-wise, a HERS score can give you a lot of insight. By conducting a HERS test, you can find areas where your home is leaking energy, which results in unnecessary energy use and costs. By ensuring your home is energy efficient, you can lower your operating costs, create a home that is more environmentally friendly, and make your home much more comfortable year-round.
  • An impressive HERS score can have a huge impact on a property’s resale value, so it could be beneficial to get a HERS rating before putting your house on the market.
  • When you’re looking to purchase a home, it can be beneficial to buy a home with a good HERS score. These homes may be more expensive initially, but you can generally enjoy impressive energy savings for years to come.

What Do HERS Scores Assess?

When a rater comes to your home for HERS testing, they look for certain energy leaks or “bugs” in the crawl space, attic, foundation, thermostat, water heating system, ceiling, and wall insulation. In these spots, they’re looking for things like:

  • The rate of air infiltration.
  • Any potential risks for combustion.
  • Distribution duct leaks in the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.
  • Air leaks in the building envelope.

What Is a HERS Rating?

A HERS rating is the score given to a home to represent its overall efficiency. When assessing a home, HERS raters perform an inspection and enter the data into specialized software. From there, they are able to assign the home a HERS score from a scale of 0 to 150. With HERS, the lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home, and every one-point fluctuation represents a shift in the property’s energy efficiency by 1%.

In order to ensure that the score is accurate and relative to the size and type of house you live in, the rater compares your home to an analysis tool with a standard reference home. In the tool, the reference home is a designed model home that resembles the rated home’s climate, environment, shape, and size, meaning HERS scores are relative to the location and type of house you live in.

For a home to get a net-zero score, it means that the house produces as much energy as it uses. Most homes aren’t quite this efficient. In fact, the average HERS score is 100 for newly built, uninhabited homes, while lived-in houses usually get a HERS score of around 130. When you’re getting your home tested, a good score is considered anything at or below the average. If your score is a bit higher than the average score, that is an indication that your house needs a few upgrades or fixes.

Aside from providing a score, the HERS rating process gives homeowners important information, like:

  • The estimated cost of the home’s energy bills.
  • Where improvements are needed or would be beneficial.
  • A cost-benefit analysis of the recommended improvements.
  • The estimated energy savings for each recommended upgrade, which typically translates into monetary savings.

How Much Does a HERS Rating Cost?

Getting a home inspected by a certified RESNET Rater usually costs somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000. Though it can seem like a costly initial investment, identifying and making improvements to achieve a good HERS score can save homeowners significantly more on their utility bills. According to the RESNET HERS Index, cooling, heating, and water heating are among the most expensive aspects of homeownership, aside from a mortgage.

HERS testing is also the first step to getting your home eligible for an ENERGY STAR certification, which can save you a ton in energy costs. Additionally, you could be eligible to claim an energy-efficient home tax credit.

What Can You Do to Conserve Energy and Get Your House HERS-Ready?

Regardless of whether you decide to get your house HERS-rated, you can make your home more energy-efficient by addressing these areas:

  • Maintain and upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system regularly. By getting your HVAC system tuned up once a year, you can keep it working effectively and efficiently.
  • Consider an automatic thermostat, and keep the temperature as close to the outdoor climate as possible. When you lower your temperature by even as little as five degrees, you can see a dramatic effect on your heating and cooling costs.
  • Add or repair your home’s insulation to ensure that the house stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Prevent air leakage by air sealing and adding weatherstripping to your doors and windows.

There’s no doubt about it: Energy-efficient homes are better for the environment and your wallet. By getting your home HERS-rated, you can ensure that you’re saving as much energy and money as possible. At Energy Diagnostics, we have a professional and experienced staff of RESNET-certified HERS Raters that are dedicated to helping homeowners reduce their energy consumption. Contact us today to get your HERS rating and start saving money.