A new energy rating system is making waves across the U.S. as another state will be adopting the method as a pathway to getting residential building permits approved.

Illinois is adopting Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET) Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index as a way to gauge a home’s energy performance pursuant to a building permit.

HERS is a type of diagnostic testing using specialized equipment, such as a blower door test, duct leakage tester, combustion analyzer and infrared cameras to determine the extent of air leaks and safety issues among other things.

To calculate a home’s HERS Index Score, a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater will do a home energy rating and compare the data against a ‘reference home’ – a design modeled home of the same size and shape as the actual home, so the HERS Index Score is always relative to the size, shape and type of house you live in, according to RESNET’s website. The lower the number, the more energy efficient the home.

Corbett Lunsford, executive director of Illinois Association of Energy Raters, says it’s time for door and window installers nationwide to pay attention to the index.

“It’s a good chance for the door and window people to be prepping their builders for it,” he says, explaining that HERS is significant because it requires a blower door test, which is one of the options in order to meet the 2009 International Energy Code and Compliances. That code is one that all 50 states must adopt by 2017, according to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The rating system is also useful because of its software. “If HERS is an option and they want to be able to show how a more expensive door or window is actually worth it, then this is their opportunity to do that, because once you have the HERS rating, you can run different types of windows to see how expensive it’ll be to heat and cool the house with these different types of windows,” Lunsford says.

Only HERS raters have access to the rating software. You can find a local HERS rater here.

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