A home is often the largest tangible investment a family will make, and it is always recommended that you do your research before taking the plunge. Understanding the metric by which to judge the quality of a home is the first step in making a savvy investment. Just as we wouldn’t buy a car based on its weight, homeowners and builders don’t gauge a home for its height. A Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) on a house can be a compelling metric to the mindful consumer and understanding this rating has significantly broadened thanks to the Residential Energy Service Network (RESNET).
The HERS Index Score is simple; the higher the rating, the more energy required to live comfortably in the home. A lower energy score indicates the home is more energy efficient. Consider that a home built in the 80s and 90s sadly rates at 200 or more while a score of 100 is equal to the 2006 building codes. A HERS score of 0 is a Zero Energy Home, however the most economical HERS-rated home you can build before introducing renewable energy (solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, etc.) is in the range of 35-45.
Building science has made great progress and it illustrates that a better (lower) HERS rating is possible when building with better products. These products deliver more control over indoor air quality (IAQ), cut down or eliminate energy bills and they protect the environment by reducing unnecessary greenhouse gases.
RESNET has proudly rated more than 3 million homes in the United States, and many of these homes were built with structural insulated panels (SIPs). RESNET rated 300,000 homes in 2020 alone, and the national HERS average score was 58.* This means that the average house is 42% more efficient than the home built to the 2006 building code rating at HERS = 100.
Being a forward-thinking building method, SIPs accomplish industry objectives in terms of health, durability and sustainability. Starting a home with SIPs is the best way to achieve a HERS ratings well below the 2020 national average. Click on the image of the five sample homes within the blog for additional high-performance SIP home details.
Great strides have been made to provide and promote energy performance comparisons in homes and these ratings allow building professionals as well as homebuyers, real estate agents and appraisers to make thoughtful, educated investments. As building science has shown, SIPs are a better alternative to traditional stick-framing due primarily to the airtight building envelope. With greater control over IAQ, occupants predictably consume less energy benefiting from lower energy bills. Similarly, the environment benefits from a home producing less greenhouse gases, and in exceptional cases, generating excess energy (Zero Energy Homes).
The flexible design of SIPs allows for uniquely high-performance homes unfathomable with traditional building methods. As the industry continues to see energy code improvements, the long-term economic value retention of a SIP home makes a non-high performance home an unwise investment. Tap into SIPA's vast resources and let’s cultivate a building culture that underscores occupant health, design flexibility and a sustainable building product.
RESNET offers an interactive learning tool for a clear understanding of the HERS Index.
Explore the Building Education with SIPs Training Program, a 10-part series of online, accredited courses.