Last year, Larry Gilland became a certified Energy Rater, which enables him to perform energy modeling and analysis. Energy modeling is the process by which residential and commercial buildings can determine their performance level for energy usage. Lower energy usage will ensure that utility bills will be lower or nil and that the building is using less of the earth’s natural resources – a victory for everyone.

One of the types of software that is used for residential remodeling is REM/Rate, which establishes a HERs (Home Energy Rating) score. HERs ratings were created by Resnet (Residential Energy Services Network), a well-established organization promoting education, training and quality control. HERs scores are recognized by everyone from the mortgage industry, to the federal tax incentive program, to the ENERGY STAR program.

After the construction data has been entered into the REM/Rate software, the next step is to perform a field test to find the infiltration rates of the home’s exterior shell. The blower door test pressurizes the inside of the building and measures the air pressure to calculate the amount of air escaping. This test can be used on existing homes, remodels and new construction.

By taking into account a number of factors, the final HERs rating can be established. The HERs score will then be measured against a base line measurement, for example from the international energy conservation code, or whatever building code has been adopted in a municipal jurisdiction for minimum energy performance and heating and cooling systems.

HERs ratings are valued on a 1 – 100 scale. 100 describes a poorly insulated home with inefficient mechanical systems. A score of 1 is “a net zero energy home,” well designed and using zero energy from utility companies.

As the Resnet website says, “A homeowner who wants to upgrade the energy efficiency can use the energy rating to evaluate and pinpoint specific, cost-effective improvements.” The ratings can also be using to obtain energy-efficient mortgages, improve resale value and marketability, and make your home a generally more pleasant place to be.