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Community and Q&A

The Secret HERS Software and Ratings Reports.

wjrobinson | Posted in General Questions on

HERS… “this house scores 0” and that’s all we are told.

Come on HERS types… open up pretty please?

I have never seen a full report showing where the 0 came from.

If anyone can post reports, please do so. If you aren’t allowed to, then tell me what
you suggest we do about this secret at least to me.

And the software… Is there a way to get the software so as to play with it for non
commercial what if… for learning… for education of us greenies?

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  1. wjrobinson | | #1

    OK... found some info... so far looks like a million subjective items that determine the number somewhat like tax forms... seems like 10 raters would come up with 10 different scores.

    It's a neat idea. I just think the software should be open source available to all to use, develop and improve upon. It also seems like we should make a light version. Standard homes could be on a list, at this site and at Building Science and at all our public sites like Energy Star etc.

    Same with manual J... is there open source manual J?

    This all doesn't seem to follow the KISS rule.

    Well the cute little HERS score tag does.

  2. Allison A. Bailes III, PhD | | #2

    I'm a little unclear on exactly what you've been given, what the purpose was, and who gave it to you. Most HERS raters use REM/Rate software, which has dozens of reports that can be printed out. There's no restriction on raters providing reports to their clients, so if you're working with a rater, tell them you want reports. If it's for an ENERGY STAR new home, ask for all the ESTAR reports, especially the ESTAR Summary and ESTAR Home reports. If you've gotten a certified rating for any home, you should get the official Home Energy Rating Certificate, which shows the HERS Index.

    Speaking of Index, we don't use the term score anymore. That's pre-2006 HERS. See the Energy Vanguard summary of HERS lingo for a little more on this:

  3. Allison A. Bailes III, PhD | | #3

    You can learn more about REM software and maybe even download a trial version of REM/Design or REM/Rate from the Architectural Energy Corporation website at:

  4. wjrobinson | | #4

    Allison... I am a builder and home owner. Not looking to get scored.

    My post is to do with opening up what is behind a score in articles we all read.

    My looking into this just now... I have found sample reports...

    I think I see a solution to my own thoughts already to do with HERS.

    Welcome all thoughts on the subject of HERS... and it's non open enviroment.

  5. Josh | | #5

    A HERS score is based upon the modeled performance and tested performance (existing) of your home. So these program such as REM/Rate, EnergyGuage and others model the energy usage of you home after entering all the values into the program such as wall construction types and square footage, insulation levels, windows, doors, appliances, ex. Now if you are looking at an exiting building an auditor will conduct a blower door test to determine air leakage and that will be thrown into the mix as well.

    However I doubt your home scored a "0". The HERS score is based on a 100 point scale. 100 meaning your home is a code compliant home based on the 2006 IECC. If you home scored a "0", it would mean your home is a net zero energy user.

  6. wjrobinson | | #6

    I have no access to official software that would spit out a HERS tag.

    One must join the Raters world.

    Frustrating government we have when they involve us in this rating world and make it all secret and for a fee and licensed and all.

    We need papers to enter this world, live in it and leave it. LOL

    Well... I have a new idea from what I have seen today.

    Do like some builders are doing. Self rate and make our own tag with our own equal rating.

    If I build a home that is 80% more efficient. The tag goes on with a 25.

    GBDHERS 25 (HERS25 equivalent)

    KISS rule... next topic.

  7. wjrobinson | | #7

    oops... 20 me thinks... Allison?

  8. wjrobinson | | #8

    Josh... I am not speaking of any particular home and certainly not my own or one I have built.

    I am just wanting to open up the topic.

    News articles... and marketing.... all of it... mentioning... wonderful scores... 57... 68... 34... 0.. etc.

  9. wjrobinson | | #9

    $400 to do a complete rating. How is this possible?

    Raters must drive at the speed of light to a job, put up blower doors in seconds, inspect a thousand items, input the thousand items, print 100 pages, bind, hand to customer, pack up and drive back to office. This all can be done in 2 hours?

    Tell me how this is the direction we want to go.

    Much simpler if we just raise the cost of E. People will use less if the price is high enough.

    KISS time

  10. HDendy | | #10

    "self rate and make our own tag...." = green washing?
    Builders have to be trained and pass exams and pay fees to practice. Why the hard feelings for another sector of the building world? Maybe just a bad experience? Give another one us a shot before making up your mind. $400...2 hours. I think the answer to that question is raters don't make $200/hour. I would be happy to give 8 to 10 hours for that price.

  11. adkjac | | #11

    Editors... you have my blessing to pull this entire thread offline as it is being totally misread.

    My apologies.

    LOL wipe up my mess Dan. please...


  12. Mike | | #12

    Let me get this straight... you want free HERS programs, free codes, free info... and you are in the building industry building for free??? You need to think and search before asking such questions.

  13. Riversong | | #13

    The only one "misreading" this topic is YOU, Adjack (a.k.a. whatever alter ego presents at the moment).

    HERS is one of the more useful rating tools, particularly because it's so universal. It's not perfect and relies on assumptions about "typical" occupant energy usage, but allows comparisons to a good baseline: the IEEC code minimum house of the same configuration.

    What HERS Index measures is very clear and that information is available to anyone willing to use the Web.

    Here in VT, a HERS rating is not only free with an Energy Star application but comes with rebates for the builder of as much as $900.

    Those who don't have access to their rating software can easily create their own spreadsheets, as I have done. But you have to actually use your own energy productively for that rather than waste it in complaining.

  14. adkjac | | #14

    Good post Robert... Vermont sweetens the entry nicely.

    The DIY spreadsheet is also my conclusion. along with using the raters service.

  15. adkjac | | #15

    Mike... Building Science Corporation. More available information than one could look into in a lifetime. No charge, they share, it is good for us. And they do so because the government is funding much of there work. They also do private paid work.

    What they don't have at there site is the b code... because the b code groups don't allow it out.

    What they don't have is HERS info because it is also not allowed out by it/s group.

    The open modell at Building Science is working well. I have gone to seminars and gladly paid to attend and have gone to seminars that my state through NYSERDA was involved.

    That's all. I value the info and the using of a rater and the cost they charge is fair.

    Interesting comments all. Thanks for the input.

  16. Tom Wehner | | #16

    You don't need the HERS Index. Here's why.

    The HERS Index will not tell you one of the most important things about a house, its energy efficiency. That's because the number includes two unrelated factors, the amount of energy generation (e.g., solar PV) and occupant/operator behavior. Slap enough solar PV on a house and you've got a HERS of 0 or even negative! A rater can also knock down a score by assuming lower thermostat settings. So, you cannot compare the energy efficiency of two houses with their numeric HERS indices.

    You can compare any houses' energy efficiencies with the HHI, the Home Heating Index. The HHI is the number of BTUs per square foot per heating degree day that need to be added to the house to make up for losses through the structure's envelope. If your HHI is less than 4, you have a very energy efficient house. If your HHI is greater than 10, your house is an energy hog. With HHI you can compare two houses anywhere. You can calculate the HHI with pencil and paper after inspection and a blower-door test.

    I am a HERS rater in New Mexico.


  17. Riversong | | #17

    "HERS Index"....I don't think so.

    It does sound a bit girlyman! And it still takes studs to build most houses (that's a joke, by the way, which once got me in deep trouble with my female supervisors).

    Seriously, though, I don't think the problem is in the name but in the way it's explained to people. Those who have received a HERS index know what it means.

  18. anonymous poster | | #18

    Tax fuel till the market goes where you want it and junk this huge growing cancer of a new bureaucracy.

    KISS it!

  19. Riversong | | #19

    The problem with taxing fuel is that it's extremely regressive - those who can afford it least will bear the greatest burden, and most Americans are just - or not - getting by as it is.

    It's the rich who have the greatest ecological impact and yet we now tax them the least in our history, and many corporations pay no tax and enjoy federal subsidies (a negative tax rate - or welfare for the rich). We could solve the US debt crisis and invest in our infrastructure and renewable technologies if we taxed corporations, capital gains and the wealthy fairly. If we included all income in the Social Security Tax, we would also keep that program solvent forever.

    The shift if economic resources from the working stiffs to the filthy rich began in the Reagan years and has gotten worse under Democrat presidents. And it was all made far worse by the give-away of the treasury to the corporados and banksters by the Bush/Obama team.

    But this is all off-topic. So forget I just posted it.

  20. Hatherly | | #20

    Tom, I agree that HHI is a useful matrix but it doesn't account for base load usage that a HERS rating does, such as lighting and appliances. (Of course the way that REMrate deals with lighting is another conversation in itself!) Also, I may be wrong, but I think that changing the settings on the thermostat in REMrate will change the energy consumption in the reports but does not change the final HERS at all.

  21. TWPeqeurxL | | #21

    I agree that the HERS Index is confusing to most people for several reasons. First...HERS - what is that? Second...Index - Huh? Third - Lower is better!? I'm a veteran rater, user or REM Rate, and am a provider of HERS rater training. I've spent many, many hours explaining the HERS index to clients, builders, architects, students, etc... Because the index can be easily and directly translated into a percentage of energy savings vs. the code build home, I think the "HERS Index" should be replaced with "% Better". That would make it a LOT easier for folks to understand. "% Better" is catchy... It could be marketed! "HERS Index"....I don't think so.

    kyle brown

  22. TWPeqeurxL | | #22

    Amanda, you are right: checking "programmable thermostat" MIGHT change the HERS Index by one (sometimes it doesn't make a difference) but changing the set-points will only alter utility cost numbers. Although there is no guarantee that homeowners will actually use the programmable therm, the most it will ever alter the index is by 1 point. Same with ceiling fans. It's possible to lower the index by one point with ceiling fans, but there is no guarantee that they will be used.

    Tom.....from NEW MEXICO....isn't suggesting that the HHI is a better way to compare homes than the HERS Index is he!? What about cooling season energy use!? Two homes in New Mexico with identical HHI's could perform drastically different in the summer depending on the percentage, placement, and efficiency of glazingsand overhang placement / design.

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