a graphical drawing of a cartoon house with wind turbines and solar in the yard, and the HERS index scale from 1 to 100 in the foreground

Photo credit given to RESNET / HERS Index Score

If you’re looking to get a HERS rating on your home, but you don’t know anything about it, you’re not alone. HERs ratings are essential to declaring your home more energy-efficient and lowering your electricity bill, saving you so much money in the long run.

To get a HERS rating on your home, you need to:

  1. Prep your home – Fix any insulation or brken air seals, for instance.
  2. Call RESNET to set up an inspection.
  3. Have a HERS rater come out to inspect your home.
  4. Allow the HERS rater to calculate your house’s HERS rating.
  5. Receive your HERS score.
  6. Save money!

Along with steps on how to receive a HERS rating on your home, I’ll discuss more in-depth what a HERS rating is and what it can do for your home. I’ll also go over the equipment needed as part of the program and how to get the best HERS rating that you can.

What Is a HERS Rating?

The first thing you should know before getting a HERS rating is what exactly it is and its primary purpose. Most people looking to lower their electricity bill will invest in a HERS inspection to save money.

HERS, or Home Energy Rating System, is a standard to measure a home’s energy efficiency, and in time, save money on electricity bills. An inspection is done on the home (typically a newer home) and is rated between 0 and 150. The lower the score of the HERS rating, the better the rating.

Although HERS is tailored toward newer buildings, it’s still an option for lived-in homes.

How To Get a HERS Rating

1. Prep Your Home With Some Easy Efficiency DIY

Before calling RESNET about getting a HERS rating, you should first fix any issues you know about around your house. These may include faulty insulation or resealing air seals. Doing these fixes might cost money, but it will help improve your HERS score. Sometimes some caulk and some spray foam gap filler that you can find for a few bucks at the local hardware store can really help seal up your house for a few hours of work.

If you want a HERS score because your electricity bills are so high, it could be due to faulty insulation. With faulty insulation, you’ll also notice inconsistent temperatures around the house and walls that are cold to the touch.

photo of a technician using caulk to seal an air duct opening to reduce air leakage in a home
Caulking or using spray foam cans to seal any leaks around the house are very easy and have a great payoff over time both for comfort and utility bill savings, all while not taking that much time.

To check insulation in your walls, turn off your electricity and remove the outlet covers on your walls. Then, shine a flashlight and look for the insulation. Insulation in the walls should be completely filled. If not, your walls probably need more insulation, and without it, it will poorly impact your HERS rating.

Overall, air sealing and small fixes like this can really add up before getting any sort of blower door test or HERS rating calculations done, both of which cost hundreds of dollars.

2. Call RESNET To Set Up an Inspection

After you’ve done a little preparation on your home, you’re ready to call RESNET and set up an inspection time. There are multiple ways to contact RESNET about getting a HERS inspection.

You can call and ask for an inspection at the Energy Hotline or ask a real estate agent for names of certified HERS raters.

Getting a HERS inspection may save you money in the long run, but it is a bit expensive. According to Energy Diagnostics, a HERS inspection can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. In conversations with HERS ratings myself though, I’ve heard with volume they can get down to as little as $600-800.

That’s still pretty pricey for a test! But the benefits can be many for having the certification. This can vary depending on the size of your house however, along with many other factors, such as geographical location, the local economy and general expense of things, and more.

a diagram of the HERS Rating scale system by RESNET, showing scores from 0 to 150 and going from green (best) to (red)

3. Have a HERS Rater Come Out To Inspect Your Home

After you’ve contacted a HERS Inspector and set up a time for an inspection, the inspector will come out and look through your house. This inspection could take a few hours, as the rater needs to go through the entire house and complete the assessment according to the RESNET Standards.

A HERS rater may need the following equipment during the inspection:

  • Ladder
  • Flashlight
  • Duct tester kit
  • Blower door kit
  • Fog machine
  • Airflow measurement
  • Portable wattmeter
  • Measuring tape
  • Safety equipment including glasses, hard hat, gloves, and a dust mask

4. Allow the HERS Rater To Calculate Your House’s HERS Rating

After comparing a home to the standard HERS guidelines, the HERS rater will calculate your HERS rating on your home. This calculation is also known as a relative performance score. So, however, your home performs on the HERS index scale will determine the overall score your house will receive.

a birds eye view of a table with house plan drawings, calculators, pencils, and other tools
HERS ratings can be done on existing homes, or on new builds by the architectural plans and specifications list of all components and build-type specifics.

5. Receive Your HERS Score

After your inspection is complete and the performance score is calculated, you’ll be able to receive your HERS score. HERS ratings range from 0-150, with the best houses (or most energy-efficient) with lower scores.

Most new homes have a HERS rating of 100. However, an average but good HERS rating is around 80-100.

6. Save Money!

Most people will have a HERS rating score of around 130 for a typical resale score. Scores are considered more or less energy efficient by comparing a score to 100. Therefore, a house with a standard resale score of 130 is technically 30% less efficient than it should be.

a screenshot of the RESNET HERS page display a HERS score of 130, and the description of the efficiency of that home
Courtesy of the RESNET HERS website – Understanding Your HERS Score

The best possible score a house can have is 0, meaning it’s considered a Net Zero Energy Home. These homes produce as much energy through renewable resources as they consume, making the house very environmentally friendly.

a screenshot of the RESNET HERS page display a HERS score of 0, and the description of the efficiency of that home
Courtesy of the RESNET HERS website – Understanding Your HERS Score

After getting your HERS rating score, no matter what it is, you can talk with your HERS rater and find out the best ways to maximize energy efficiency in your home, therefore saving money in the long run.

Tips for Preparing for a HERS Inspection

To better prepare for a HERS inspection, take the time to do the following:

  • Check your home for air leaks and immediately take action to fix them.
  • Use a high-quality caulk around windows or any other place where air leaks are found.
  • Check the insulation in your walls and add more as needed. Sufficient insulation is critical to temperature maintenance.  
  • Use a thermostat that regulates the temperature in your home, if possible. Keeping the temperature even just a few degrees lower can save you money on your electricity bill.

What Certifications Do HERS Raters Need?

HERS inspectors need to pass national online exams and perform five ratings under supervision before becoming completely certified. An accredited Rating Provider’s Certified Field Assessor will be present during the inspections.

Since RESNET has a specific, strict set of standards, the HERS inspectors must follow them to ensure a house gets the most accurate score.

Final Thoughts

Getting a HERS rating on your home isn’t challenging to do. As long as you contact a HERS rater to come to give your house a rating, you’ll be able to receive one. It’s recommended that you prepare your home before a HERS rating, such as checking and fixing the insulation or air leaks throughout the house.

However, HERS raters will be able to go over a possible action plan to make your home more energy-efficient and save you money in the long run on electricity bills.

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