The rising costs associated with buying a home has priced many Utahns out of home ownership and has made home energy consumption an even more important factor in the overall cost of housing. A Home Energy Rating System increases affordable housing opportunities by:
- Reducing utility bills
- Increasing home resale value
- Expanding your family’s range of home ownership choices
- Qualifying more families for Energy Efficient Mortgages
Similar to the EPA rating that is given to vehicles stating the estimated miles a car can go on a gallon of gas (MPG), a Home Energy Rating measures how efficiently a home uses energy for its heating and cooling purposes. Unlike an energy audit, or a house inspection, a Home Energy Rating evaluates the energy efficiency of the entire house (not the occupants, nor just the structure of the dwelling). The Home Energy Rating is meant to stand over time and to be transferable to subsequent occupants of the home.
All information is taken into account in determining the rating. No single feature or building technique is required instead, each item is assigned points, and the total number of points is what determines the rating and an Energy Star classification. For example, a house with 50% of its windows facing south will receive more points than the same house in the same spot with only 25% of its windows facing south–but not if those windows are shaded by pine trees or similar landscaping. Similarly, it is possible for an older home built with 2×4 fully insulated walls to rate higher than a new home with 2×6 fully insulated walls.
Data is collected using the “Utah Energy Checklist” on numerous components and energy systems of the house. Some of the areas of interest are:
- air flow into and out of the house through the ventilation system
- air leakage (infiltration and exfiltration) of the building shell
- heating/cooling and mechanical systems
- quality and quantity of exterior doors, windows, and insulation
- opportunities for solar gain
- energy efficient devices
After these areas of the home have been inspected, the collected information is analyzed and the home is assigned a Home Energy Star rating. The client who has requested the rating is provided a detailed report listing some of the improvements (with estimated costs) and an estimated savings of energy dollars that may be gained by making these improvements. The following chart is the rating scale that is used in Utah.
The Home Energy Rating System of Utah
The cost of heating and cooling a home is the largest cost of ownership after the mortgage. A lower HERS index rated home can save you money on your utility bills and provide you and your family with greater comfort for years to come.
What Will An Energy Rating Do For Me?
Pinpoint specific areas of your home that are wasting energy and money and suggest the most cost effective steps to fix those areas.
- Give you the documentation you need to take advantage of the numerous financial incentives that are available for buying an energy efficient home or improving an existing home.
- Assure you that a newly constructed home is energy efficient and in compliance with the IECC 2006.
- Tell you, before you buy a house, whether the home is energy efficient or whether it is an energy waster.
- Give you more house for your money.
The Energy Rating
When Certified Home Energy Raters in the state visit a home they conduct a visual inspection of the house and collect data using a variety of energy measurement devices. They inspect many areas including the attic and crawl space. They also conduct a blower door test to determine the home’s air leakage. In addition, this test will also provide a measurement of back drafting caused by heating appliances and a means of determining a home’s ventilation needs.
How Should I Prepare My Home For The Rating?
The Home Energy Rater will have all of the necessary paperwork and assorted tools needed to do the rating. The homeowner or the person requesting the rating should make sure that the Home Energy Rater has clear access to the basement, attic, and crawl spaces. If there is a fireplace or woodstove, the ashes should be removed to avoid the possibility of soot and dust escaping onto the floor.
How Long Does It Take?
The time it takes to do a rating will vary somewhat depending on the size of the house, but the homeowner should expect a rating to last about two hours.
How Long Before I Get the Results?
Energy Rated Homes of Utah will process the submitted paperwork and have it ready to be returned to the homeowner normally within three business days.
- Expanded edge through market driven energy efficiency
- Demonstrated (market driven and value added) compliance with the IECC 2006.
Real Estate Agents
- Marketing energy efficiency through easily understandable terms (Energy Star Rating)
- Identify energy efficient homes on the market for clients through the Multiple Listing Service
- Mitigate a lower selling price for inefficient, existing homes through Energy Improvement Mortgage programs
- Receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credits
- Increased confidence in the marketability of the home in case of default
- Participate in various federally endorsed energy mortgage programs
- Verify a home’s relative energy efficiency through an independent source
- Factor into the appraisal a home’s energy efficiency
- Access to a statewide database for comparing market data on homes according to their relative energy efficiency.