Home Energy Efficiency Trends & Data



Over the summer, the U.S. eclipsed 2 million Home Energy Ratings System (HERS) rated homes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to research done by the National Renewable Energy Lab, HERS rated homes made up 22 percent of all new homes in 2016. HERS, created by RESNET, began as, and still continues to be a market driven option for labeling the energy efficiency of homes. When comparing HERS rated homes, the lower the index score, the more energy efficient the home will be. A score of zero means a home is producing as much energy as it uses over the course of a year, while a score of 100 is typical of construction practices from more than a decade ago.

Data on HERS rated homes from just the last two years sheds light on how builders are choosing to make their homes energy efficient:

  • Nearly half of rated homes use high efficient HVAC equipment
  • Over 90% of homes achieve low air leakage rates
  • Almost two-thirds of homes use efficient windows
  • More than one-third of homes use continuous wall insulation
  • Nearly 55% of homes received an Index score of 62 or less
  • Only 7% of homes use on-site power production

A recent study published in the Journal, Energy Efficiency, found that consumers were driven to choose more efficient products when presented with a simple efficiency score over energy bill savings information. Although this study did not look at home buying preferences, it demonstrates the consumer preference of a simple means for comparing energy efficiency levels when making purchasing decisions. A separate study by the National Association of Home Builders on home buyer preferences also supports the trend toward consumers looking for energy efficiency. That study found that 91% of home buyers considered a whole house Energy Star Rating as either essential or desirable.

With the adoption of the Energy Rating Index (ERI) into the nation’s model energy code, many builders are seeing the dual benefit of the HERS Index as not only a consumer marketing tool but also to demonstrate compliance with local building codes. The ERI has been adopted in 14 states and over 300 local jurisdictions, and these numbers are expected to increase significantly over the next three years. Nearly half of all homes rated in the last two years have achieved index scores that will allow them to comply with the most recent 2018 national model energy code.

The trend of home buyers choosing more energy efficient, comfortable and healthier homes is certain to continue. With the HERS Index backed by consumer demand and code compliance, home builders can market to that trend by working with any one of the nation’s more than 1,900 certified RESNET Home Energy Raters to get an independent, unbiased review of the energy efficiency level of their homes. For more information, visit www.resnet.us.

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