After Ten Years, Home Energy Score Continues to Grow

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Feb 09, 2021

Ten years after Home Energy Score™ was announced as a tool to measure a home’s energy efficiency, the program reported its 150,000th score. For prospective homebuyers, this milestone represents progress in providing reliable information about a home’s efficiency and other key characteristics when purchasing a house. For homeowners, the tool provides specific recommendations to improve a home’s score and, in turn, its efficiency, comfort, and affordability.

Like a miles-per-gallon rating for vehicles, Home Energy Score provides energy efficiency ratings for single-family homes. The score is offered on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the most efficient homes. Scores are based on a home’s “envelope” (roof, foundation, walls, insulation, and windows) as well as its energy systems (heating, cooling, and hot water).

While it took five years to collect the first 75,000 scores, the next 75,000 were completed in three years – largely due to expanded support from several jurisdictions for including Home Energy Scores in residential home sales.

Home Energy Score map created by the Department of Energy, January 2021.

One such example is Portland, Oregon. The city has generated more than 23,000 scores since January 2018, when it first began requiring the Home Energy Score in residential real estate listings. Portland officials have discovered opportunities for improvements in many of the city’s older homes built before energy codes were in place. Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recently issued its first report on Home Energy Score data collection, and authors concluded that a wide section of the city’s homes could benefit from efficiency upgrades.

A state-sponsored Home Energy Score program enabled the City of Milwaukie, Oregon to adopt a similar policy in October 2020. And in Berkeley, California, the city’s Building Energy Saving (BESO) ordinance includes Home Energy Score as part of a home sale.

Utility programs nationwide have also delivered tens of thousands of Home Energy Scores to consumers. Utilities in Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin have included Home Energy Score as a standard part of their offerings when assessing homes for efficiency upgrades. This year, utilities in Massachusetts will begin offering scorecards that use the Home Energy Score calculation engine as part of the Mass Save® program.  As other jurisdictions adopt policies that include Home Energy Score, the home energy information collected will lay the groundwork for energy improvements that will benefit individual consumers and their communities.