More on Energy Efficiency

Is your home cold and uncomfortable? Are your monthly energy bills high? Addressing these types of home problems can not only make your home more comfortable, but also at the same time improve its energy efficiency — saving you money on utility bills and helping to protect the environment.

Home Energy Audits

A home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency. But remember, audits alone don’t save energy. You need to implement the recommended improvements. ENERGY STAR provides extensive information about home improvement projects to enhance energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort.

You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a Professional Energy Auditor perform a more thorough audit.

Do-It-Yourself Audits

If you have five minutes and your last 12 months of utility bills, use the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home’s energy efficiency to similar homes across the country and get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements from ENERGY STAR. You will also need to enter some basic information about your home (such as zip code, age, square footage, and number of occupants). If you don’t have your bills, contact your utility for a 12-month summary.

Hire a Professional Home Energy Auditor

If you are interested in getting specific recommendations for improving the efficiency of your home, consider contacting a Professional Energy Auditor. A professional auditor can use a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.

Your first step should be to contact your utility to see if they offer free or discounted energy audits to their customers. If not, you can hire a Home Energy Auditor to evaluate your home’s energy efficiency.

Another resource to find a Home Energy Rater, is the ENERGY STAR for Homes Partner Locator.

New Homes and the All Important HERS Index

Are you considering buying a brand new house? Does the new house meet Energy Star Performance requirement?  If so, what is the HERS index of the house?

A home energy rating involves an analysis of a home’s construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home’s plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficiency software package to perform an energy analysis of the home’s design. This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index. Upon completion of the plan review, the rater will work with the builder to identify the energy efficiency improvements needed to ensure the house will meet ENERGY STAR performance guidelines. The rater then conducts onsite inspections. Results of these tests, along with inputs derived from the plan review, are used to generate the HERS Index score for the home.

The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in which a home built to the specifications of the HERS Reference Home (based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code) scores a HERS Index of 100, while a net zero energy home scores a HERS Index of 0. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is in comparison to the HERS Reference Home.

Each 1-point decrease in the HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy consumption compared to the HERS Reference Home. Thus a home with a HERS Index of 85 is 15% more energy efficient than the HERS Reference Home and a home with a HERS Index of 80 is 20% more energy efficient.