Third Party Consumer Information for Homes

Real Estate Agent with Steinborn & Associates Real Estate

When most of us are about to make a major purchase, we depend on third party consumer information about performance, reliability, and cost effectiveness to help make a god decision. When buying a car, it is a simple matter to research the consumer ratings, independent performance and safety test results, and the fuel efficiency ratings before we even take the first test drive.  Whether considering a washing machine, a laptop computer, or a vacuum cleaner, we can easily find information to evaluate the value of our prospective purchase based on price, quality, performance, cost of operation, maintenance and more. 

Typically, though, when making what for most of us is the largest investment of our lifetimes – a home – there has been little, if any, third party information to rely on in making our decision. As a result, most people buy homes with little to no reliable information on the how well the home will meet their expectations in terms of comfort, energy efficiency, and overall costs of homeownership.

Third Party Verification for Homes.  In the last several years we have seen an increasing use of third party verification in homes based on performance testing and unbiased analysis of effective design, construction technology, energy efficiency, indoor-air quality, and more.  All of the third party verification is associated with “green” homes. 

The great news for consumers is there are now objective information available to compare homes on their performance in energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, and on meeting higher standards for design and construction.  

One of the most useful third party verification tools for homes is the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), which provides the equivalent of a “miles per gallon” rating for homes.

Home Energy Rating is performed by RESNET certified professionals with the equipment and trained to measure and test the energy characteristics of a home, including insulations levels, building envelope efficiency, solar orientation, and heating and cooling efficiency.  This information is analyzed to provide a point score for the home along with an estimate of the annual energy costs for the home based on its relative efficiency as compared to a conventional new home built to current building codes.. 

The HERS is a scoring system on a scale of 0 to 100.  The standard new home built to current energy codes should achieve a score of 100, and a net zero energy home would score a 0.  The more energy efficient a home is, the lower its score will be on the scale.  The home with a HERS score of 30 is 70% more energy efficient than a home with a score of 100.  That translates to significant savings on energy bills.

The HERS Rating is an essential part of the certification process for homes meeting standards by ENERGY STAR, Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED),  or the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Standard.  All of these organizations require a HERS rating as part of their standards for certification. 

When buying a home, there is a huge benefit to being able having third party information available in the form of HERS ratings for each home being considered. 

  • It allows buyers to make better decisions regarding the performance of the home.
  • It allows buyers to make better choices in the relative quality of homes.  The HERS rating provides verification of all of the components in the home, as well as how those components work together to for energy efficiency and comfort.  A home that has been properly constructed for energy efficiency will deliver better protection against cold, heat, drafts, moisture, pollution, and noise.
  • It gives buyers the power to lower their cost of homeownership.  Because an energy efficient home saves money on energy costs and offers greater durability, it can lower the cost of energy and maintenance by thousands of dollars per year. 

In today’s market, people want to make their home investment count.  It is incredibly important to know how well a home will perform, and how much it will cost to operate the home in terms of energy bills and maintenance.  And you don't want to take the builder's or the seller's word for it it without third party verification.  It wouldn't be surprising if the HERS report for homes comes to be as important a piece of information for home buyers as the miles per gallon rating is for car buyers. 

More and more homes for sale in Las Cruces are being offered with a HERS rating.   Any home that is marketed as a green home should have a HERS rating associated with it.  It's about time home buyers had the benefit of independent, reliable, third party consumer information available in making what could well be the biggest purchase of their lives.

Posted by

Renee Frank, Realtor®, EcoBroker®, ePro®

SMART LIVING TEAM, Steinborn & Associates Real Estate

Las Cruces, New Mexico

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