On A Scale of One to Green: How to Rate Your Home’s Efficiency Level

From on October 31, 2007 in Green Remodeling

Energy Guide LabelNumerous rating systems, standards, and best practices exist through government programs to assess and regulate the amount of energy used on residential and commercial levels. These rating systems are designed to help ordinary homeowners like you and me understand and manage energy usage. Quite often, though, we forget that these programs exist and are out there to help us. To refresh our memories, this article will provide an overview of some of the primary energy ratings systems used in the U.S.

Check the Fine Print, Do You Purchase Energy Efficient Products?

To begin with, check the labels on your appliances. By law, most new appliance must carry Energy Guide labels that state their projected yearly energy use. Simply by comparing the information on these labels prior to purchasing, you may be able to save yourself a lot of money on the utility bill. Labels should show an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) for air conditioners and Geothermal heating and cooling systems, a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) comparing the product’s efficiency levels with others, and an Energy Star label for products that meet strict energy conservation guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Does Your Home Make the Grade?

HERS IndexWith a Home Energy Rating (HER), you can rate your home’s current energy efficiency level, or, if it is still in construction, its projected efficiency level. Ratings are given through an HER Index, where 100 represents standard energy use for a new home and 0 indicates no net purchased energy. Homeowners can use the information gleaned from HERs to upgrade efficiency levels in their home or to compare levels in homes being considering for purchase. HERs raters perform the inspections.

The HER Index is provided by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), a non-profit organization designed to set standards of quality and increase occurrence of high energy performance in buildings. Certifications of “White Tags” and Energy Star labels are distributed as part of participatory programs.

Is Your Mortgage Energy Efficient?

“Energy Efficient Mortgages,” also known as EEMs, enable borrowers to qualify for loans to purchase homes that demonstrate specific energy-efficiency improvements. Lenders can offer conventional Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs), FHA EEMs, or Veteran’s Administration EEMs. Find out more through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).

Is Your Home Green?

U.S. Green Building CouncilIf you wonder whether or not your home qualifies as “green,” the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a good place to check. LEED has a Green Building Rating System™, a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. If you’re looking for advice or resources prior to construction, LEED also gives building owners the tools needed to measurably impact building performance. It does this by promoting sustainability through five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

On A Grander Scale

The Department of Energy (DOE) promotes stronger building energy codes and helps states adopt, implement, and enforce these codes. DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program is based on the model of collaboration with agencies, jurisdictions, and industry, education for users, and ultimately, implementation, and enforcement.