Understanding Energy-efficient Homes and the HERS Index

Ever wonder how a home gets its energy-efficient rating? Energy efficiency in a home is a result of the materials used, how the home is built with those materials, what windows are installed, the appliances that are chosen once the home is nearly complete and more. All these elements contribute to the home’s HERS Index score (Home Energy Rating System). HERS Index is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. Like golf, the lower the score, the better. The lower the score, the higher your savings, the more comfortable your home is and the smaller your carbon footprint. We think that everyone, including tree huggers, likes money in their pockets, which is why Two Structures Homes utilizes OG&E’s Positive Energy Certification standards and the National Home Builders Certification to set your new home up for HERS success.

When getting a HERS Index score for your home from a certified rater, the science behind it and the tests involved are complicated; however, the results it provides are incredibly easy to understand. The following checks are in place to show where you’re saving money:

  • The amount and location of air leaks in the building envelope

  • The amount of leakage from HVAC distribution ducts

  • The effectiveness of insulation inside walls and ceilings

  • Attics, foundations and crawlspaces

  • Windows and doors, vents and ductwork

  • Water heating system and thermostats

  • Other variables that are taken into account include: Floors over unconditioned spaces (like garages cellars, etc.)

Once calculated, you’ll know what’s going back into your pocket each year and your rating will provide invaluable information on what can be done to lower that score and to save you even more money.

In February of this year, Two Structures built a 1,696 square foot, single family home in Yukon, OK. Existing homes, those that are available for resale, typically score in the 120-130 range on the HERS Index, which is 30% less energy-efficient than recommended.  Most newly built homes come in at a score of 100 on the Index, the current industry standard for home energy efficiency. This particular home in Yukon received a HERS Index score of 61! That means this home will have an annual savings of $642 based on estimates of electric and natural gas consumption and carbon dioxide emission. That’s always a fun statistic to see, especially if you’re the home owner.

To put that into perspective, over a standard 30-year fixed mortgage, the homeowner will save $19,260 dollars. What can you do with an additional $20k in your bank account? For starters, you could travel the world for 13.5 months. You could be smart and pay for five years of tuition to an Oklahoma university or invest that money with the possibility to come away with $265,353 at a 9% rate of return. But if you wanted to go nuts, you could always make an extended weekend out of it and stay 3 nights in the most expensive hotel in Dubai, the two-bedroom Royal Suite, complete with 24 carat gold iPad use, a private beach and your choice of 17 types of pillows.

To see what your next home from Two Structures Homes could save you, visit this interactive HERS Index and reach out to Jay and his team to discuss your options.