Richard Kampas

We hear about home energy audits the way we hear about the weather. The Home Energy Rating System? Not so much.

HERS raters have traditionally worked in new construction. They, like auditors, use technical equipment and a sophisticated software such as REM/Rate to model the energy use of a home before it’s built. This energy model produces a HERS index similar to the miles-per-gallon rating for automobiles and compares the energy use of the rated home to a comparable size home built to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code.

Rate, Test, Advise

HERS raters determine whether the home will meet certain standards above and beyond code and visit the project during construction to verify that key details are properly handled. They test it when it’s done to verify that it performs to the level projected in the model. Only a HERS rater can determine whether a new home qualifies for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Home label. The best raters become regular advisers to the contractors who rely upon them to be well informed and current in their knowledge of building performance.

HERS raters are certified by HERS providers who qualify them by reviewing their computer models, mentoring them, checking their work in the field when they first seek certification, and conducting rigorous annual quality assurance procedures on their work. HERS providers are responsible for the quality of the raters’ work.

Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), accredits the providers. Think of RESNET as the Pentagon; HERS providers are the commanding officers in the field.

The HERS industry was always intended to play a much larger role. Many municipalities now regard a HERS rating as demonstration of energy-code compliance. This only makes sense, so expect to see more code-compliance ratings in the future.

But wait, there’s more: Only HERS raters can do the computer modeling and testing for Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) and Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs). EEMs and EIMs are great selling resources for remodelers, and you may want to connect with a rater in your area. You might even want to become one.

—Ed Voytovich is a principal at The BER (Building Efficiency Resources), which is a HERS provider.