How to Get Your Home Certified as Energy Efficient
When it’s time to sell your home, how can you get it certified as energy efficient in order to increase your home’s value? There are a wide variety of certification programs available, and some are better than others. Here are four that have meaningful standards and a national reputation, and—most importantly—can add value to your home.
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LEED Program for Homes
LEED standards used to be available for commercial and office buildings only. Now the rating, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is available for single-family homes and multi-family housing units up to six stories. LEED awards points in energy efficiency and water use, as well as how effectively the structure reduces greenhouse gas emissions. LEED certification also takes into account building materials used and their impact on human health as well as the environment. Depending on how green your project is, it could earn one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. To get started with LEED, review their reference guide here.
HERS, The Home Energy Rating System Index
HERS is the energy efficiency rating system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeowners make their homes more energy efficient. The HERS index measures a home’s energy efficiency on a score ranging from zero to over 150. The lower the score the better, because that indicates the home is saving energy. To calculate a home’s HERS Index Score, a certified RESNET HERS Rater conducts an energy rating on the home and then compares the data against a model home that’s about the same size and shape as the actual home. The rater will examine insulation in all exterior walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, attics, foundations, and crawlspaces. He or she will also gauge the effectiveness of the home’s HVAC system, water heater, and thermostat, as well as inspect for air leaks in the home and around windows, doors, vents, and ductwork. Once the data is analyzed, a rating will indicate how efficiently the home is performing, and where opportunities to improve exist.
National Green Building Standard
The National Green Building Standard is the only residential green building rating system approved by ANSIm the American National Standards Institute. It pertains to the design and construction of all types of green residential buildings, renovations, and land developments. In addition to focusing on energy efficiency, the National Green Building Standard considers indoor air pollution and other factors affecting health, the operating costs of the home, and how the home contributes to a sustainable lifestyle—taking landscaping and location into consideration.
This initiative, lead by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote energy efficiency, offers a Home Performance with ENERGYSTAR program to help homeowners find specially trained contractors who can audit your home, identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency, and also improve indoor air quality. ENERGYSTAR claims that working with a contractor to improve home performance will save 20% or more on typical utility bills, increase the comfort of the living space, and reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Usually, the contractor conducts a thorough energy audit, makes recommendations to the homeowner, and then completes the work. Homes that are constructed efficiently “from scratch” can earn the ENERGYSTAR label. You can find a Home Performance with ENERGYSTAR Program and participating contractor by clicking on your state on this map. You can learn more about ENERGYSTAR’s certifications for new homes here.