DOE officially adopts new rating system for Challenge Homes programs

The Department of Energy's (DOE) Challenge Homes program has adopted a new system that will measure a house's energy efficiency to determine if it qualifies for the systems prestigious badge.

The Home Energy Rating System Index (HERS) replaces the DOE's former E-Scale, which previously graded new construction on how innovative and attractive it was to environmentally concerned consumers. The DOE made the announcement in a press release on September 6.

HERS was created by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) to make the DOE rating system more easily readable for customers shopping for new homes. The Challenge Homes program, which was enacted in 2008, has successfully rated more than 13,000 homes since its inception.

Houses that qualify for a DOE Challenge Homes rating must stand out among other properties in that community, according to the programs guidelines. Additionally, these homes must not rely on traditional methods to increase energy efficiency, but instead push the envelope in featuring innovative new technologies to save power.

Homes that have already received ratings from the DOE's previous E-Scale rating system will be given new certifications that reflect the updated model, and will not have to go through a new evaluation.

On the scale, a standard new home that consumes an average amount of energy will receive a grade of 100 out of 150. Homes that produce as much power as they consume and have no burden on the electric grid will receive grades of 0.

Homeowners who are interested in getting a rating for their property should first seek an energy audit from a home inspector to determine if they are doing all they can to be environmentally conscious.