If you’ve ever shopped for a car or an appliance, you know that one of the most useful bits of information to have is how efficiently it uses energy. For cars, think MPG; for heating and cooling systems, think AFUE and SEER. (More on these measures in future blogs.)
But what if you could compare the efficiency of an entire house to other homes in the area — or even across the country?
That’s the idea behind a Home Energy Score — a system developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its national laboratories as a tool for both comparing homes and suggesting efficiency improvements for homeowners.
If you’re new to Home Energy Scores, here’s a quick FAQ. For more information, please visit the DOE’s Better Buildings® website
Q. What is a Home Energy Score?
A. The Home Energy Score is a quick and simple tool to evaluate a home’s energy efficiency in comparison to other homes. The assessment, which takes less than an hour, uses a simple 1 through 10 scale where a 10 represents the most energy-efficient homes. The assessment also provides recommendations on how to cost-effectively improve a home’s score so it can outperform similar homes in the market and across the country.
Q. What types of homes can get a Home Energy Score?
A. Any single-family home, townhouse, or duplex within an area served by a Department of Energy partner organization can receive a Home Energy Score. Currently, multifamily and mobile homes cannot be scored.
Q. How is the Home Energy Score calculated?
A. The 10-point scale is determined using the most recent U.S. Census housing data, plus data from more than 1,000 weather stations. The latter is used to normalize results across a range of climatic conditions, which allows homes in different regions to be compared.) For more information, see this description of the Home Energy Score methodology.
Q. What is an average Home Energy Score?
A. A score of 5 puts a home in line with average homes across the United States; a score of 10 ranks a home among the top 10% of U.S. homes.
Q. How much does an assessment cost?
A. The price of a Home Energy Score assessment varies by region and partner fee; it is often offered as part of other home energy audit or inspection service. To find a Home Energy Score assessor in your area, see this list.
Q. What does a Home Energy Score Certified Assessor™ look for?
A. Assessors use Home Energy Scoring Tool software to evaluate 40 data points in a house, measuring the building’s envelope (foundation, roof, walls, insulation, windows), energy systems, and square footage. For more information, see this description of the Home Energy Score methodology.
Q. How does the score calculate savings from recommendations?
A. Recommendations that come with the Scoring Tool are expected to pay back in 10 years or less using state average utility rates and national average installation rates. Assessors may provide additional recommendations that reflect local rebates and incentives or other special deals that the Scoring Tool does not consider. The “Score with Improvements” evaluation shows what the home would score if all the tool-provided recommendations were incorporated. Read more about Score with Improvements calculations here.
Q. Why should I get a Home Energy Score?
A. Your Home Energy Score will show you how your home’s efficiency compares to other homes, and will identify areas where efficiency improvements can be made in your home. In addition to reducing your energy bills, these improvements will also help you feel more comfortable in your home and may improve your indoor air quality. The score is also a useful indicator for home buyers comparing home values, so if your intention is to sell your home in the near future, it could be a worthwhile investment. See this link for more reasons to consider getting a Home Energy Score assessment.
Q. How do I get a Home Energy Score?
A. The Home Energy Score is only available in areas served by DOE’s official Home Energy Score Partners. To find which partners offer the Home Energy Score in your area, see the DOE’s partner map here.
The Home Energy Score could be a great investment for your home, and your wallet. Want to make another great investment? Spend some time reading about the smart, affordable energy plans and green options at Discount Power. Have questions? Contact us today to learn more!