If you’re looking to purchase a home in the Seattle area, one question you’ll face is whether to buy an existing house or build a brand new home. Many of the benefits of building a new home are fairly obvious. You get to design and build your home the way you want it (rather than accepting someone else’s design). You’re the first one into the new house so it has that special new-and-just-for-us appeal. Everything in the home is new and should be in perfect working order (and if there should be an issue it will be covered by the warranty). You even have control over the colors in your rooms (without having to actually paint them yourself).
The other side of the equation, however, is that (generally speaking) building a new home can cost a bit more. But even there it’s important to take a longer-range view of the cost in order to get a true “apples-to-apples” comparison. That’s particularly true when it comes to energy efficiency and the price you’ll pay to heat and/or cool your home. What if the price you pay for a brand new home results in lower utilities costs?
Should you just assume that a new home will be more efficient? Is there a way to know? That’s the idea behind the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) which is the system that’s recognized nationally for determining a home’s energy efficiency.
A home’s HERS Index Score can provide accurate and important information about the energy usage for a home you’re considering. That’s kind of important when you consider that—next to your mortgage—the heating, cooling and heating of your water are your most significantregular costs of owning a home. Sure, you want to know what your home will cost to purchase (whether you buy existing or build new), but you also want to have a clear understanding of what it’s going to cost you to live there month after month.
So, how does it work?A certified RESNET Home Energy Rater assesses the energy efficiency of a home, and then gives it a relative performance score (a HERS Index Score). The lower a house’s score, the more energy efficient that house is. So what’s a “good” score?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, typical resale houses (houses already on the market) score an average of 130 on the HERS Index, while houses built to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code are rated at 100. That means these houses are more energy-efficient.
If the home you’re considering building has a HERS score of 70 that means it is 30 percent more energy efficient than the reference home. If you’re looking at a home with a score of 130 that means it is 30 percent less energy efficient (and will cost you more per month to live in).
You may want to ask for a HERS evaluation of any home you’re considering. Click here to find out more about the NERS Index. Then when you’re comparing features and costs, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what your new (or new-to-you) home will cost to live in on a monthly basis.