Nobody likes to get audited, except when the audit is for a Home Energy Score™. That’s because a Home Energy Score provides information about your energy efficiency. Improving your Home Energy Score not only saves you money with lower utility bills, but it also makes your house more comfortable. A further benefit is that if you are considering selling your home, a high Home Energy Score adds to your resale value.
This post takes a closer look at:
- What is a Home Energy Score?
- What does a Home Energy Score tell you?
- What does a Home Energy Score evaluate?
- Why perform a Home Energy Score audit?
- Who can perform a Home Energy Score audit?
- How can you improve your Home Energy Score?
The Department of Energy (DOE) and its national laboratories developed the Home Energy Score, a standard tool to provide home owners, home buyers, and renters with reliable information about a home’s energy use and energy efficiency. By the end of February 2023, nearly 208,000 Home Energy Score assessments had been completed nationwide since the program’s inception in 2012.
Why perform a Home Energy Score audit? As one editorial put it, “If it’s worth investing thousands into kitchens and bathrooms to make one’s home more attractive to buyers, shouldn’t it be well worth a couple hundred for the Home Energy Score assessment—and perhaps a few hundred more in energy-saving improvements like added insulation?…It adds the element of home performance into the buying process, and does it not by requiring anyone to make fixes, but rather through ‘mandatory transparency’.”
A Home Energy Score is akin to your car’s miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating. It is a standard assessment of energy-related assets to estimate home energy use and the associated costs of that energy use, and to suggest possible solutions to improve a home’s energy efficiency.
The score is a simple 1 to 10 scale, with 10 representing the highest energy efficiency. According to the DOE:
- 1 represents homes expected to use more energy yearly than 85% of U.S. homes
- 5 represents less energy usage than about 50% of U.S. homes
- 10 is the lowest energy usage, representing homes expected to use less energy than 90% of U.S. homes
Note that even if you achieve a 10, which means you are among the comparable 10% of U.S. homes expected to use the least amount of energy, there is probably still room to improve in terms of efficiency upgrades or new equipment.
To get your numerical Home Energy Score, the following features are evaluated:
- Your heating, cooling, and hot water systems
- Quality and energy-efficiency rating of your home’s foundation, roof, walls, insulation, skylights and windows
- Estimate of energy usage assuming standard operating conditions and HVAC fuel type
Besides the numerical score, the evaluation includes a “Score with Improvements” recommendation for cost-effective improvements with associated annual cost savings estimates. For example, improving a Home Energy Score from 3 to 7 can represent an estimated annual savings of $573.
A Home Energy Score helps potential buyers and renters evaluate how a home not only affects their pocketbooks in terms of monthly utility bills, but also how well the HVAC system can provide comfortable temperatures in all livable rooms. A favorable Home Energy Score can also improve a buyer’s chances of qualifying for a larger mortgage or eligibility for more financing options. It is also a consideration during home refinancing, to improve qualification.
It’s also a factoring tool for realtors and property owners to estimate and compare market valuation. A property with a higher Home Energy Score contributes to a higher resale value. Freddie Mac economists found that more energy efficient single family homes averaged a 2.7% sales price premium, with the most efficient homes selling at a 3% to 5% premium compared to less energy efficient homes.
According to the DOE’s Better Buildings® report, borrowers can finance up to 15% of a home’s “as completed” appraised value for energy improvements resulting from Home Energy Score assessments. Borrowers can also qualify for a stretch on their debt-to-income ratios if the home scores a 6 or higher, or if they make improvements to a less efficient home.
Even if you’re not looking to sell your home or looking to buy and finance a home, a Home Energy Score helps you assess where you can make improvements in energy utilization, which will lower your utility bills and improve your comfort levels. And if the time comes when you want to sell your home, or even refinance it, the Home Energy Score adds to your valuation.
Only assessors qualified and certified by the DOE can perform a Home Energy Score audit. These can include local building inspectors, real estate professionals, or energy services contractors. An example within the service area of Ongaro and Sons is Archon Energy Solutions. A contractor that claims to provide a Home Energy Score but isn’t a certified assessor lacks the training and tools to perform a meaningful assessment that will be accepted by real estate professionals and financial institutions. Not to mention that you’ll want your own peace of mind that you are getting an unbiased score based on proven methodologies.
Individual situations vary, depending on such factors as your home’s square footage, your family size, and climate conditions, but there are a number of basic ways to improve your Home Energy Score. These include:
- Upgrading your heating, cooling, and filtration systems
- Performing regular HVAC maintenance
- Replacing old windows and doors with more energy efficient windows and doors
- Using smart thermostat(s) to achieve and maintain consistent indoor temperature without overheating or overcooling spaces, and setting them for comfort levels when at home and away from home
- Upgrading insulation with higher R-values that prevent heat loss – R-19 for walls, and at least R-30 if not R-40 for attics and roofs
- Replacing appliances with more energy-efficient models that can reduce energy consumption anywhere between 10% and 50%
- Updating lighting with more efficient LED light bulbs, and adding motion sensors and timers to turn off lighting when it isn’t needed
Work with Ongaro & Sons to Improve Your Home Energy Score
Ongaro & Sons is a family-owned business in its fourth generation of operation, providing complete residential and commercial heating and central air conditioning services, including installation, maintenance, and repair. We are a licensed state contractor with fully insured, qualified, and professional technicians dedicated to providing energy-efficient solutions tailored to your specific requirements and budget. Our 100% guarantee ensures your complete satisfaction.