Although energy efficiency measures are generally popular with the homebuyer in this era of sharply rising fuel prices, choosing the measures to be installed in a new home falls primarily to the builder or architect. A range of measures that affect a building’s energy performance are found in every system and assembly in the building. Much of the time these are unknown to the homebuyer. Decisions such as how to weigh each measure, which are cost effective, which have impacts on other systems, can be migraine-inducing but will affect occupant health and safety and building durability. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a professional knowledgeable about these systems and their interactions? Happy day – there is.
These professionals are called Home Energy Raters. They are nationwide in coverage, they have a thorough and disciplined training and continuing education program, and they are accredited through a national governing body (RESNET) whose authority comes from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). HERS Raters, as they are called, perform energy simulation analysis using software that must pass muster against DOE tests. The Raters follow established protocols for gathering information and modeling buildings and perform on-site verification of air leakage and duct leakage rates using blower door testing equipment. Some Raters also perform infrared imaging.
HERS Raters are also the primary mechanism for qualifying homes for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR for Homes Program. Raters are closely aligned with building scientists as well, and they are the network that takes much of what is learned in the building science community and helps to put the knowledge to work in the field.
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Your heating equipment is only part of the equation. The efficiency of the envelope (the outer walls, floor, ceiling or roof) also calls for thought.