How Builders can Boost a Home’s Energy Efficiency with a HERS Rating

Home builders and other residential contracting businesses operate in a very competitive marketplace. As with any small business, these builders need to have competitive advantages that will differentiate them from others in the marketplace. They need an element to their business that will help them stand out in the crowd.  An intentional effort to build more energy efficient homes can be that advantage.

Find a certified HERS Rater to work with: HERS is an acronym that stands for Home Energy Rating System. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) has created a nationally recognized set of standards for measuring energy efficiency and has a system of professional certification for individuals to inspect and test homes. It’s the benchmark for inspection, testing, and rating practices used throughout the country. Through their experience and training, HERS raters become experts in energy efficient building practices from advanced framing techniques and airtight building envelopes to the mechanical systems. RESNET maintains a website with a searchable list of HERS Raters including Madrona Building Solutions.

Work with your Rater during the design phase to achieve the best possible HERS Score: HERS is not a code, so there are no specific requirements for a HERS Rating. However many of the services that go into a HERS rating can be used to help comply with Washington State Energy Code. A HERS Score is simply a number which represents the overall energy efficiency of a building. HERS ratings can be used for either new construction or a remodel of an existing home. Your HERS Rater can model the home in the rating software and run multiple scenario calculations to determine the best possible methods of achieving a lower score. HERS ratings are necessary for incentives from the 45L tax credit and PSE’s High Performance Homes  as well as green building programs like Energy Star, DOE Zero Energy Ready, and Built Green.


Test the Home During Construction:  As a HERS rater, Madrona Building Solutions can provide independent third part quality assurance to make sure details aren’t missed in your project. During the construction process, we perform a number of diagnostic testing and inspections that we will perform. Our standard price of $695 (for homes up to 3,000 sq ft) includes:

  • Projected + Final HERS rating
  • Pre-drywall and final air leakage testing with a blower door
  • Duct leakage testing
  • Mechanical ventilation system testing
  • Pre-drywall insulation inspection
  • Weather resistance inspection
  • Comprehensive report with inspection and test results

Building more energy efficiently is NOT that much more expensive: It’s true that some of these building practices will be more expensive, but you’d be surprised how little it adds to the costs and how much it adds to the real bottom line. Most of the improvements to your construction methods will be very incremental and represent attention to detail and using the best practices. Your Energy Rater can help determine which improvements will be the most cost-effective.

Homeowners EXPECT, ASSUME, and PERCEIVE that their new home will be energy efficient: This is a little like the perception that red cars are faster, but there is actually some truth to the fact that the new homes will be more energy efficient than older homes because of modern building codes. Unfortunately, a code built house is the worst house you can legally build. Building above-code allows builders to future-proof the home as codes progress.

Market your building company as an energy efficient builder: Building homes that acheive one or more certifications helps the home stand out in a crowded real estate market and . That will allow you to use the association logos in your marketing materials.  If you take the next step and decide to build ENERGY STAR Certified homes, you can also join ENERGY STAR and start using one of the most recognized brand logos in the country.