Frequently Asked Questions
Like a miles-per-gallon rating for a car, the Home Energy Score is a quick and simple tool to help homeowners and buyers gain useful information about a home's energy use. Based on an assessment completed in less than an hour, the Home Energy Score not only lets a homeowner or buyer understand how efficient the home is and how it compares to others, but also provides recommendations on how to cost-effectively improve the home's energy efficiency.
The Home Energy Score uses a simple 1 through 10 scale where a 10 represents the most energy-efficient homes. The Score was designed to be easily understood and to tap into people's desire to improve their score and to outperform their peers. Find out more on our About the Score Page.
Single-family homes, townhouses, and duplexes can receive a Home Energy Score. At this time, multifamily and mobile homes cannot be scored.
The home’s estimated energy use is converted into a score on a 10-point scale, where a score of 1 represents a home with high-energy use, a score of 5 represents a home with average energy use, and a score of 10 represents a home with low energy use. A low scoring home is likely a great candidate for cost-effective energy improvements, which could not only help homeowners save energy and money, but also improve comfort and indoor air quality, and make the home more attractive when it’s time to sell.
The ten-point scale is determined using 2009 U.S. Census housing data, and data from over 1,000 weather stations is used to normalize energy consumption across various climatic conditions. Because the Home Energy Score normalizes for differences in weather patterns and associated energy use across the country, it allows for homes to be compared both locally and nationally. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
If a home scores a 5, it is expected to perform comparably to an average home in the U.S. in terms of energy use. If a home scores a 10, it ranks among the ten percent of U.S. homes expected to use the least amount of energy after accounting for local climate. A home scoring a 1 is estimated to consume more energy each year than 85 percent of U.S. homes, again after accounting for local climate. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
DOE does not dictate Home Energy Score fees, so the price varies throughout the country. The Home Energy Score is often offered as part of other audit or inspection services, so the cost may be built into the fee for another service. To find out how much a Home Energy Score might cost for a home in your area, contact one of our Partners. To find which Partners offer the Home Energy Score in your area, visit our Partner Map.
Assessors collect about 40 pieces of information during the home walk-through and enter this information into the Home Energy Scoring Tool software. This includes data about the home's “envelope” (foundation, roof, walls, insulation, windows), energy systems, and square footage. Because the Score only considers the home's fixed assets, information about how residents operate the house and non-permanent features like lighting, home electronics, and appliances are not included. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
A home's size - or conditioned square footage - is one of many factors used in calculating a Home Energy Score. Square footage impacts the Score because the Tool estimates the home's annual energy use, not energy per square foot. Equipment and envelope aside, a larger home will generally score lower than a smaller home due to the larger exposed surface area through which to lose energy. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
Homes in different parts of the country use different amounts of energy because of different needs for heating and cooling throughout the year. Homes in temperate regions are expected to require less energy for heating and cooling compared to homes in more extreme climates. A high-scoring home in New England may still use more energy than a drafty home in Southern California because of climate differences between these areas. Homes in different climates with the same Home Energy Score are comparable in terms of energy performance as related to local weather patterns. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
Recommendations that come with the Scoring Tool are expected to pay back in ten years or less using state average utility rates and national average installation rates. Assessors may provide different or additional recommendations that reflect local rebates and incentives or other special deals the Scoring Tool does not consider.
The "Score with Improvements" shows what the home would score if all the tool-provided recommendations were incorporated. The cost savings predicted is usually less than the recommendations' individual savings added together because of the compounding effects of multiple improvements. Homeowners should expect to realize some savings as soon as they make improvements; however, the time required to recover the cost of making the improvements will vary. Some improvements can pay off within a couple of years; others take longer. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
The Home Energy Score is available in areas served by DOE's Home Energy Score Partners. View the current list of Partners to see all of the Partners we work with nationwide.To find which Partners offer the Home Energy Score in your area, visit our Partner Map. You can also use the Find an Assessor tool by entering your zip code and see which Assessors work near you.
No. The Home Energy Score is designed as an "asset rating" meaning that the Score reflects a home's structure and mechanical systems—for instance its insulation, air leakiness, heating, cooling, and water heating equipment—not how the occupants use the home. As a result, a family that sets their thermostat very low in the summer, and never turns off lights or electronics could have high energy bills even in a high-scoring, efficient home. This means the Home Energy Score continues to be valid even if the home is bought or sold. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
Your Home Energy Score will show you how your home's efficiency compares to other homes, and will identify energy improvements that will save you money and raise your Score. These improvements will also likely enhance how comfortable you feel in your home and may improve the air quality in your home. If you've already made home energy improvements, your Score can officially recognize your home's higher performance level—a useful indicator if you're planning on selling your home soon. Read more about the benefits of getting a Home Energy Score on our page explaining The Value, or learn visit the Partner Map to see which Partners offer the Score in your area.
The Home Energy Score is only available in areas served by DOE's official Home Energy Score Partners.To find which Partners offer the Home Energy Score in your area, visit our Partner Map. If there is no Partner in your area, ask your local utility or state energy office when the Home Energy Score will be available in your area. You may also be able to find an Assessor in your area who is working under one of DOE's national Partners, either as a home inspector or BPI certified home auditor.
Scoring a 10 means the home ranks among the ten percent of U.S. homes expected to use the least amount of energy after accounting for local climate. However, most high-scoring homes still have room to improve, whether that means efficiency upgrades or maintaining equipment. Utilize the recommendations offered along with the Score to see about other cost-effective measures that make sense for your home. Find out more on our Methodology Page or by reading our Methodology Paper.
Not with the Home Energy Scoring Tool itself. However, additional information about the home and the homeowner's behavior can be added in through a consumer tool called “Home Energy Saver.” Visit Home Energy Saver to input information from your Home Energy Score's "Home Facts" to customize energy estimates and recommendations by modifying the remaining fields.
Homeowners should work with their energy improvement contractor or utility and visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to find out about local, state, and federal incentive programs.
There are also financing resources provided by Fannie Mae and FHA that involve the Home Energy Score. With Fannie Mae's HomeStyle Energy mortgage, borrowers can finance up to 15% of a home's "as completed" appraised value for energy efficiency improvements by receiving a Home Energy Score. Borrowers in this program can also qualify for a stretch on their debt-to-income ratios for homes that score a 6 or higher, or for making improvements to a less efficient home. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has a similar policy that allows larger debt-to-income ratios for high scoring homes. These policies reflect the fact that more efficient homes have lower operating costs.
Home Energy Score Partners include many types of organizations, including state and local governments, utilities, trade associations, and non-profit organizations. All partners must be able to implement the partner requirements outlined below and in the Partner Implementation Plan. If you are interested in your organization becoming a Partner, review Partner requirements and Partner Resources page, and email us a completed Implementation Plan to HomeEnergyScore@ee.doe.gov with "Interested Partner" in the subject line.
Partners are expected to:
- Manage the Assessors participating in their local program.
- Score a minimum of 500 homes in the first year. The time period begins when the Partner scores its first home. After the first year, DOE will work with Partners to establish annual numeric goals with the intent of expanding the program.
- Conduct quality assurance reviews on a sample of scored homes. This involves having a different quality assurance provider or Assessor rescore 5% of the scored homes and mentoring new Assessors.
- Participate in regular calls and webinars with DOE and other Partners, and collaborate with DOE on delivery and continuous improvement of the program.
- Market the Home Energy Score locally.
These requirements are detailed in the Partner Implementation Plan document.
Yes. An Application Programming Interface (API) allows the Home Energy Scoring Tool to link seamlessly with other software tools. This way, data only needs to be entered once into one system. To ensure proper data translation between programs, using an API requires some upfront programming by your organization or software tool provider. Learn more on our Partner Resources page under the heading, "Compatible Software".
Assessors can only score homes by working through an official Home Energy Score Partner. In order to become an Assessor, all candidates must provide proof of an acceptable prerequisite. Once these certifications are verified, the candidate Assessors must pass an online test, which covers Home Energy Score information, and successfully score sample homes in the Home Energy Score Simulation Training.
DOE allows Partners some customization of the Score for use in their area. The first page of the Home Energy Score Report can be customized to showcase information most important to your organization. Active Partners that are interested in customizing the Score should discuss this with their DOE Account Manager. Organizations interested in becoming Partners can send questions to HomeEnergyScore@ee.doe.gov.
Defining a home's conditioned floor area accurately is vital to creating an accurate Home Energy Score. Further, Home Energy Score does not necessarily define a home's conditioned area the same way as public records or online resources. Any space with duct registers or radiators should be included as conditioned space. For example, if an unfinished basement has duct registers or radiators it's area should be included as conditioned space; if a finished basement does not have these heating and cooling features, it should not be included as conditioned space.