The average U.S. household spends $2060 on energy bills each year. If you are a home owner or a buyer, knowing your home’s energy score and following the energy-saving recommendations provided in your home energy report can save anywhere from 5-30% on energy costs, which is an annual savings of about $100-$600 per year!
This article provides everything homeowners and buyers need to know about home energy scores.
What is a Home Energy Score?
The US Department of Energy developed the Home Energy Score Program in 2012. This program is designed to give owners, buyers, and renters a way to know how well their home performs on the energy efficiency scale. Once they know where they stand, they can make improvements to reduce energy waste and cut costs.
To determine your home energy score, a trained home energy score assessor goes through a checklist of energy-related assets. They then compile a home energy report based on these findings.
There are 3 parts to this report: the actual energy score, an estimation of energy use and costs, and ways you can improve energy efficiency.
How Does a Home Energy Score Help Me?
The energy-saving recommendations provided in your home energy report can help you save about $100-$600 per year!
Additionally, home sellers who add a Home Energy Score to their Pre-listing Inspection can take proactive steps to improve home efficiency and help increase the value of their home.
What Factors Influence Home Energy Score?
To calculate an energy score, a qualified inspector performs an inspection known as an energy audit. This audit includes a standard assessment of energy, and those results are used to calculate a score.
The inspection involves working through a checklist of roughly 40 items to examine. The "envelope" of the home is examined, which includes the foundation, roof, and walls. The inspector also checks the water heater, heating and cooling systems, attic spaces, and insulation. Any areas where air leakage can occur are inspected, including doors and windows, ventilation systems and areas around electrical and plumbing.
Finally, the inspector considers the size and age of the home, which direction it faces, how much daily shade it receives, and the location climate. When considered all together, this information provides your inspector a detailed understanding of energy use in your home.
What Do Home Energy Score Numbers Mean?
Homes are graded on their energy performance using a scale from 1 to 10. A score of 10 indicates excellent energy efficiency, while a 1 reflects the least efficient homes.
This score is also based on total energy use, not energy use per square foot. As a result, larger homes that require more energy generally score lower on the home energy scale. This does not mean that those homes are not energy efficient, but they may have to take additional steps to score higher with their smaller counterparts.
Homes that score a 1 use more energy than 85% of other U.S. homes. These homes have a lot of room for improvement. On the flip side, a score of 10 is reserved for homes that use less energy than 90% of other homes.
What Types of Homes are Eligible for a Home Energy Score?
Only single-family homes are eligible for a home energy score audit. This includes stand-alone houses and townhouses. Multifamily homes and mobile homes are ineligible.
How To Improve Home Energy Score
One of the benefits of a home energy report is that it comes with a list of recommendations to improve your home’s energy performance. Your trained inspector will be able to provide specific recommendations for your home, but here are a few easy tips to get you started.
Reduce Electricity Use
Switch to CFL or LED light bulbs and install energy efficient appliances throughout your home to reduce electricity use. You should also unplug electronics such as TVs and computers because they still use power in standby mode. Turning the lights off when you leave the room is important as well.
Reduce Air Drafts
Caulk and seal areas around doors, windows, plumbing, and electrical inputs to reduce drafts and keep your home warmer. Replace worn weatherstripping on doors and windows. Close the flue damper around the fireplace when it’s not in use and install fan covers over kitchen exhaust fans to keep cold air out.
Use Less Heating and Cooling Energy
Reduce the temperature on your water heater and keep up with maintenance for heating and cooling units. Install a programmable thermostat to maintain a consistent temperature. Open drapes to allow sunlight to heat the home during the day and close them at night to reduce heat loss. Keep window coverings closed during the summer to prevent overheating.
Use Less Water
Repair any leaks or drips right away to conserve water. Take shorter showers using a low-flow shower head instead of baths. Consider running your washing machine and dishwasher only when you have a full load to clean.
A home energy audit is an investment that can save you money on energy costs. By having an expert examine your systems and following his recommendations, you will reap the benefits both immediately and over time.
The energy audit is a core service provided by our friendly and knowledgeable WIN Home Inspectors. Contact a WIN Home Inspector today to arrange your home energy audit.