The push to make Home Energy Scores an attractive necessity.
He’s busy. She’s busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy, and sometimes in this world where information is increasingly at our fingertips, the result becomes overwhelmingly counterproductive. Do you really have time to research the pros and cons for five brands of sun block when your car battery just died again and you leave for vacation tomorrow? (“Just give me a ready-made comparison chart for choosing quality car battery already – and hand me a tube of whatever that is – I’m sure it blocks out one spectrum or another!”) The average person does not have time to make all the educated decisions we’re supposed to make and sometimes that doesn’t matter in the least. Other times? We could be embarking on a path to the short end of the stick or a far thinner wallet than necessary. That’s why everything from magazine articles to a company’s strategic approach to influencing the consumer decision journey have been streamlined. Just give us the facts, Ma’am.
How many Americans really know what to say when asked if their home energy bills are as low as they could be or if their HVAC is running efficiently? Short of keeping an eye on the thermostat, your average homeowner simply does not know. After all, there are professionals for that. But how many pros are telling you that the average annual home utility bill of $2,200 could be far less after energy-saving improvements? Hopefully, many more will do so soon, because the appeal of owning an energy-efficient home is gaining ground.
No, not everyone is in the dark about their home energy costs. In 2016 consumers spent less than 4% of their annual household expenses on energy. A lower share has never been recorded. Many states are implementing net-zero policies and deadlines for reaching them. Progress is being made, but is it fast enough? Can we kick it into a higher gear? After all, the longer consumers put off becoming educated, the greater our world suffers the consequences of clueless energy consumption. It all began when the twentieth century kicked off a sharp rise in CO2 emissions from 280 parts per million to today’s 400 ppm and climbing. Think climate change is bizarre now? Wait until 2040 when, if we don’t reduce CO2 emissions, we will likely hit 450 ppm where climate conditions turn far more catastrophic.
Fortunately, the Better Buildings project from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) came up with a system to streamline understanding of a home’s energy use–the Home Energy Score (HES). Such a score allows home buyers to know what they are getting into as far as energy costs go. A good score demonstrates added value when trying to sell your home. The process can provide cost-effective recommendations and reveal the percentage of CO2 emissions that can be eliminated as a result. As with most things, the roll out of policies regarding this score isn’t exactly speedy-as of April 30, 2017 just over 62,000 homes have completed Home Energy Score assessments. As home buyers, sellers, real estate agents, assessors, and DOE partners realize and hype the benefits of an HES, we can expect the trend to continue.
So, in the interest of getting more folks on board faster, what is the Home Energy Score and how does it benefit you and yours? Let’s streamline this!
What is the main purpose of the HES? Provide an easy-to-understand, higher market value for energy efficient homes. The HES can also be integrated into financing products to further drive the market. For a good portion of the population, money makes the world go around. It would seem the DOE is using that fact as an incentive to improve the health of our planet and promote comfortable lives.
How does the HES work? It takes less than an hour for an assessment of a home’s envelope (foundation, roof, walls, insulation, windows) plus heating, cooling, and hot water systems. The results are placed on a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 representing excellent efficiency and 5 being average. (A complete scoring methodology paper is available through the DOE for those of you who thrive on the details.) The assessment can also tell you where your home would score with improvements and provide annual cost savings estimates.
Can I have my home scored? You will need to see if your area is served by an DOE Home Energy Score Partner. As more partners come on board, this will become easier. Hopefully, more cities like Berkeley, CA and Portland, Oregon will be making policy moves that require single-family homes to be scored at the time of sale, making ease of getting an assessment a nonissue.
How much does an HES cost? That will depend on individual assessors who might charge a fee or simply include the assessment in a general home inspection.
Are financing incentives available if I choose to implement HES recommendations? Possibly. In addition to visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, consult your local energy improvement contactor or utility company.
Interested in becoming an HES assessor, partner, or stressing the importance of an HES through your real estate business? The DOE has the resources to get started.
As always, if you want to save money and breathe better, consider re-evaluating your home’s HVAC system. At BPE, Inc., we wholeheartedly believe in the power of super-efficient Energy Recovery Ventilators. We raised the bar for ERV performance–and we have the expertise to incorporate such units into a system that lowers energy bills, your carbon footprint, and the amount of garbage you breathe in all while raising your indoor air quality and your Home Energy Score!