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HERS Energy Ratings

Why would I want to get a HERS rating for my project?

The HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score is the only energy model accepted by the Federal government to qualify for the Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit for new homes (a $2,000 tax credit to the builder) and by lenders for homeowners applying for Energy-Efficient Mortgages (EEM) or Energy Improvement Mort. The score also has marketing value, providing potential buyers with a ‘miles per gallon’ rating, projected utility costs, and even a ‘carbon footprint’ to compare with other homes.

What does the HERS score mean?

When a certified HERS Rater models your project’s projected energy use, the result is a HERS score. HERS scores for new homes range from 100 to 0 – the lower the score, the less energy the home is expected to use. Here are some approximate scores, although individual projects vary:

100        – Home built to the International Energy Conservation Code

85           – Home built to the new Washington State Energy Code

70          – Northwest ENERGY STAR Home

60          – Home qualifying for the $2,000 Federal tax credit for the builder (approximate)

0            – ‘Net Zero Energy’ home (uses no more energy than it produces)

‘Projected Ratings’ – for Projects Still in Design

This is a fairly quick ‘ballpark’ model that can help you make design choices and let you know if you’re likely to hit your energy goals. To get started on your projected rating, we will need the following:

  • Full architectural and structural plan set in both digital and full-size hard copy;
  • Total volume of conditioned space;
  • glazing percentage and estimated average U-factor;
  • Proposed mechanical systems for space conditioning and domestic hot water;
  • Proposed insulation types and R-value levels for walls, ceilings, and floors.

‘Confirmed Ratings’ – for Completed Projects

To finalize your HERS rating when construction is complete, we’ll need the following:

  • Blower door test results, plus duct test results for ducted heating systems;
  • Complete window schedule with dimensions, U-value, SHGC & compass orientation;
  • Installed insulation types and R-values;
  • Make, model, and efficiency level of all mechanical equipment.

‘Certified Ratings’ – for the Federal Builder Tax Credit

The $2,000 Federal tax credit is designed to encourage builders to build for sale that are projected to use half the energy of the 2004 International Energy Efficiency Code (IECC). In Washington State, because of our tough energy code, many local ENERGY STAR Homes can qualify for the tax credit. If your HERS rating shows that your project qualifies, your Rater will need to submit the Confirmed Rating to WSU’s Energy Office in Olympia (the state HERS authority) to review the rating and issue a tax credit certificate. WSU charges $125 for this service, but $75 of that covers certifying the project as an ENERGY STAR Home.