Is anybody out there using the DOE Home Energy Score?  If so, are you using it as a supplement to current WAP/home performance work or are you using it for some other reason?

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I just scored my first home. My state's weatherization program has integrated it with the modeling software. It's definitely a supplement to the usual HP work. I don't yet see how it provides any value added, but more may be revealed.

What modeling software do you use, how expensive is it , how well does it work?

SnuggPro, like Dane Ervick, below.  The HES has been integrated with it, so it's not difficult at all, if you're using SnuggPro.  I don't know the cost of SnuggPro, sorry.  I do believe individuals can purchase subscriptions and they charge you for each job you use their software for.

Hi Rob, here in Cincinnati there is a "Green Features (Y/N)" dropdown selection which allows potential homebuyers to search for homes with documented home performance upgrades. The HES is one of a few documents accepted as proof, a HERS score or a simple template that's filled out by the homeowner will also work. Hopefully next year the individual feature will be itemized and searchable which will lead to appraisers having the ability to look at comps and let the market reflect the added value that these features provide. From what we've seen clients are definitely interested in the score as an added bonus to their energy assessment, but the score isn't what's driving demand. We use SnuggPro for modeling/reports and they've recently integrated the Home Energy Score as an additional feature, so there's an API that uses the data points from SnuggPro to communicate with the DOE site and calculate a score. So, it's pretty easy for us to provide a score with minimal extra work. 

Some quick background - I work for a non-profit called the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, we manage local incentive programs as well as a market rate home performance contracting service. We're also the local HES admins. 

I should clarify that the "Green Features" drop down selection is incorporated into the local MLS and is a searchable field, soon there will be multiple data points that can be compared (R-Values, CFM50/ACH50 #s, etc.)

Get at me Dave - We are building a customized tool that can generate HES and pick up green home features eventually leading a green score as well. Brett.Little@greenhomeinstitute.org

This discussion is great and one that I hope will continue.  As more existing homes receive the Home Energy Score and the public becomes more aware of how to use it in decision-making prior to purchasing a home, it will become a score that must be a searchable field in the MLS.  Appraisers can analyze how sales prices of houses with higher Home Energy Scores compare to sales prices of houses with lower Home Energy Scores.  If all else is equal between the sales except the Scores, the data will reveal if the market was willing to pay more for the higher score.  This will take time and education in the market.  The biggest challenge will be documenting the score and date it was scored.  The DOE database is not accessible to appraisers or real estate agents. 

It would be extremely helpful if the assessors would include an Opt out clause in their contract with the homeowner to allow them to share the score on their home unless they check a box to Opt out.  These scores should be identified with a label that should be placed in the electrical box as well.  When the homeowner sells or lists the property, the agent or appraiser can see the sticker and begin to verify the upgrades that are not visible because they are behind the walls.

It will be important to also track a number of scores to see how they have actually influenced the energy costs.  If you can verify the occupancy and plugs have not changed, a tracking one to three years out can be the data that will convince more homeowners, agents, and appraisers to consider the score in listing, buyer, selling, and valuing existing homes.

We are seeing more utility companies coming up with an energy program with their own scoring.  It would be great for the public and future sales data to see everyone on the same page.  I know, good luck with that!   It would be too easy for the public to understand one scoring program.  Let's give them many different scoring programs. 

Agreed Sandy on all counts!   HES and HERS will be confusing to everyone that doesn't understand the difference in scoring methods.  My initial reaction after watching the HES video on YouTube from DOE was, "Another metric that dumbs down the HERS score."  But HES is simple to use for the public, so why not?  

Our first issue is educating real estate agents (which I'm doing quarterly this past year instead of monthly) to understand what HERS is.  I ran a search recently as to who marked HERS and why from within the MLS.  At least a 1/3 of the agents' listings did not fill in a number for the score and some of the homes had no green features but said they had a HERS score?!  Argh!  

I hope the public is better educated and informed as to what each means and can in turn hire agents like Rob and myself who get this stuff!  Good for you Rob in becoming BPI certified! 

As Sandy noted, "The DOE database is not accessible to appraisers or real estate agents."

In the northeast a multi-state, U.S. DOE grant funded effort, being managed by the Regional Energy Efficiency Organization, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP), is working with the region's program providers/sponsors to build the Home Energy Label Information eXchange (HELIX) database.

HELIX should contain HES, HERS, and other 3rd party verified building certifications available throughout New England and NY from program sponsors.

The database will enable MLS subscribers to auto-populate MLS listings with these energy efficiency scores and certifications. Ideally, it will enable appraisers and Realtors to view a broader picture of their market as it will contain all rated, scored, and/or certified homes, not just those listed for sale in the MLS.

Jeffery, do you think the Passive House designation will be one of the "other third party verified building certifications" available in the HELIX DB?

Yes, Passive House is one of several 3rd party verified building certifications to be included.

We are working with the City of Holland (Michigan) on their Community Energy Plan and they funded us to do 50 + pilot scores in the region. We are doing a large study with a PHD student and hope to release it soon on the effectiveness score. We also are running a Biggest Loser Energy Challenge with 121 homeowners. Half got a score and half did not and so we will see if those scored were more apt to take action and save energy compared to those who did not.  Lastly, our new MI energy code requires blower door testing for new homes and major renovation. We are using the score to guide design at best and at worst to just give a neat report showing the homes score to give to homeowner's that is cheaper and faster than using HERS. Plus the details from the score are what the code officials in need in a report. 

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