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DOE Zero Energy Ready Home

Your home is the largest and most important purchase you make in a lifetime - and rising energy prices make it one of the most expensive to operate and maintain.  Homes account for 21% of the energy used in the United States every year, with an average annual utility bill of $1,767.00.  Homebuyers are increasingly concerned about rising energy costs, and the impact of fossil fuels as a major source of greenhouse gases.

Increasingly, homebuyers are looking to energy efficiency and green building programs, such as the Department of Energy (DOE)/Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Program, The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Green Building Program, and the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED for Homes Program to help them buy or build a high performance home.  Many local and regional programs are also valuable resources for homebuyers.

To help with the quest to reduce the energy consumption of their homes, the Builders Challenge helps homeowners:

Understand Home Performance with the EnergySmart Home Scale (E-Scale)
The E-Scale is a simple, easy-to-understand format that compares the energy performance of homes. (See it below)

Find Builders
The Builders Challenge provides a database of builders who have joined the Builders Challenge and can build homes to a 70 or better on the E-Scale.

Learn More About Energy Performance
The way you operate your home can have a big impact on energy use.  To get more out of your high performance home, visit the Energy Savers web site.

EnergySmart Home Scale (E-Scale)
What is the EnergySmart Home Scale (E-Scale)?
The E-Scale is an easy-to-understand tool that helps homebuyers and homeowners make smart energy decisions when purchasing, renting, or updating a home.  It is designed to provide clear, objective answers to basic questions:

  • Will this home help me save money on energy bills?
  • How many "miles per gallon" does this home get?
  • How does it compare to a typical new home?
  • How close is it to the "ultimate" – a Net-Zero Energy Home?

Estimated annual energy usage is the projected amount of natural gas and electricity used annually by a home.

Typical existing home represents the average energy performance of the existing housing stock.

Typical new home represents the energy performance of a home built to code (2006 IECC).

Energy Star is 85 on the E-Scale.

Net-Zero Energy Home  A net-zero energy home annually produces with on-site renewable sources as much energy as it consumes.  On-site renewable sources include energy collected on the site and used in the home (e.g., solar, wind).  The site includes the home's footprint and the home site plan.  The home should also provide an expected level of service and comfort.

Estimated average monthly energy bill is the estimated annual energy bill divided by 12 months.

Builders Challenge (70 or lower) represents the threshold at which a home must be built to comply with the Builders Challenge.

Your Home represents the verified annual energy performance estimate for a specific home.  In this example, a home achieving a 65 on the EnergySmart Home Scale will use only 65 percent as much energy as a typical new home - 100 on the scale - saving about 35 percent in energy use on utility bills.

A 70 on the E-Scale indicates that a home is approximately 30% more energy efficient than a typical new home built to code.  A 60 on the E-Scale would be 40% more energy efficient.  The ultimate goal is to get to 0 – a Net-Zero Energy Home.

Builders may place the E-Scale on or near the home's electric panel to show homeowners the energy performance achieved by that particular home.  Participating builders and partner organizations can also:

  • Augment the rating with estimates of annual energy cost savings – which may help homebuyers get better mortgage terms
  • Include estimates of the carbon footprint associated with the energy rating

The E-Scale is based on the well established Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, developed by RESNET, the Residential Energy Services Network.  The energy rating for the home will be conducted by RESNET-certified energy raters for the performance pathway.  RESNET has an established system for quality assurance for raters as well as providers (who oversee the raters).  For more information, see the National Home Energy Rating Standards.  This is the same system that underlies the Energy Star homes program.  The Builders Challenge will also require third-party verification of Builders Challenge Quality Criteria.



Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved

This page was last modified on March 05, 2017

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