Our company is a regional partner organization for Home Energy Score and we are getting ready to launch the program this month.  I wanted to start a thread to get some thoughts.

  • What does everyone think of the Home Energy Score software so far?  Will it be successful as a nationwide benchmarking tool?
  • To what degree do you feel HEScore is scoring homes inaccurately due to the lack of data inputs concerning occupant behavior?

These are just a couple thoughts I had so far, but I'd really enjoy some dialogue about this new and exciting program.

Tags: DOE, Energy, HES, HEScore, Home, Score

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Firstly, your previous post did not mention consent about reporting to the government.  It only stated that the homeowner did not need to consent to a score in the first place - which they do.  Any homeowner who does not want a score done for their home does not have to allow the assessor into their home to gather data - same as a homeowner who does not want to consent to an inspection.  These are completely separate issues - I consent that the point about having scores submitted to the DOE is a valid criticism of HEScore and is not part of standard home inspections. (See that? It's called critical thinking/compromising a point)

Secondly, you are INCORRECT about RESNET.  Believe me, as I am the Program Manager for HEScore at my organization.  Every single assessor who will be using HEScore must submit either a RESNET Rater or BPI BA certification to us.  I have personally submitted these documents to the DOE on behalf of assessors in order for them to be eligible to take the HEScore certification test. RESNET HESP's do not qualify to use Home Energy Score.  See this quote directly from an email sent to me by the Technical Director for HEScore:

"At this time, only the Building Analyst and Rater certifications are accepted."

 

Wrong, again, Zachary.  The home owner has consented to an inspection.  While performing the inspection, the inspector is also collecting data for a Home Energy Score which the owner did not consent to ... nor is the owner aware of the permanent government record made of it.  You do know how that works, right?  You might want to read my blog, again:  http://jimbushart.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/how-to-protect-yourself-...

 

Home owners should always be a part of the process.  RESNET and InterNACHI, through their alliance (as with the other inspection associations RESNET is working to ally with) work with the prospective home buyers, exclusively.

You are probably unaware of the fact that home inspectors are prohibited from sharing information that they collect in their home inspections with anyone other than their client ... in this case, the potential buyer.  The home seller is completely unaware that anything of this nature has happened unless ... after the fact ... the prospective home buyer decides to share it with him.

The home energy score will quickly become even less popular than it already is after it has interfered with the sale of a few homes.

More on Home Depot clerks and their association with RESNET and home energy assessments. http://www.demandsidesolutions.com/2010/12/home-depot-enters-the-ho...

Read it more closely.  It says Home Depot is having employees certified as HESP's (Home Energy Survey Professionals).  I agree that these "audit-lite" type of assessments are very limited in value and they do somewhat undermine the value of a full comprehensive diagnostic audit.

But these HESP's will not be certified to use HEScore.  As I have stated multiple times in this thread, only BPI BA's and RESNET Raters will be eligible to use the Score.  A RESNET HESP will not be able to use the software.

You have stated it multiple times, Zachary ... but you have stated it wrong.

RESNET "providers" ... not "raters" is what the feds require.  http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/homeenergyscore/home_energy_a...

I am reading these announcements to say that RESNET has approved Home Depot and InterNACHI as "providers".  All their (Home Depot and InterNACHI) people have to do to be certified by RESNET for this program is to send money and pass a test, as I read it.

There is no requirement by the feds for "building analyst" or "rater", as you can read in the above link from the government site.

 

I now see where you got this information and I finally understand why you have this misconception.  This is an important mistake that is listed on the HEScore website.  I personally contacted the HEScore team to see if they can make a change to the website.

I can tell you though from first-hand experience that these are the only two certs that are accepted.  I specifically inquired about one candidate whose Analyst cert had expired but still had a BPI Heating Professional cert.  This is when I got the email reply from the HEScore Technical Director about only the analyst and rater certifications being valid.  This professional had to re-take his Analyst test in order to become eligible for the HEScore test.

This example alone should tell you that the information on the HEScore website omits some important information.  James - assuming I am correct, and that only Analysts and Raters are eligible to use the Score, does this address the primary concerns you have about the tool?  This will disallow the situation you described - a home inspector secretly generating a score for a home buyer without the homeowner's consent.  I do appreciate your feedback; I just want to be sure that you are not disseminating any false information about HEScore and that others will not harbor the same misconceptions that you did.

We are pleased that the Home Energy Score is now available through partners in many areas of the country.

While our team at LBNL doesn't speak officially for DOE's Home Energy Score Program, as developers of the Home Energy Scoring Tool (HEScore) we can perhaps add some insight and help clear up  misconceptions that are swirling around based on third-hand information.

Regarding accuracy, since asset ratings like the Home Energy Score do not (by design) account for occupancy effects (just as a MPG rating on a car does not account for variation in how someone might drive a car), it's important that rating providers educate the recipients about this. If someone wants an operational assessment, they should instead use a tool intended for that purpose such as the Home Energy Saver or Home Energy Yardstick.

That said, in response to Zachary's original question, an extensive accuracy assessment of HEScore has been performed by NREL <download link coming soon>, which has found that the tool predicts bills very well on average. Operational ratings will do so with less "scatter".

James points offsite to a blog post that contains inaccurate information about the official Home Energy Score Program or HEScore. In addition to the corrections made by Zachary, James may be reassured that access to HEScore actually requires training and login credentials which are only provided to those who have demonstrated their ability to generate meaningful scores, through certification and testing requirements. Existing respected training infrastructure provided by BPI and RESNET is used as well as DOE's own training.

Meanwhile, thanks to the availability of an API (application programming interface), third-party software developers are busily integrating the official Home Energy Scoring Tool methodology into new and existing energy analysis software already established in the marketplace. Of course there is no way for DOE or any other entity to centrally impede people from ginning up an independent tool to provide ratings (in fact, there are many such tools out there already.) However, in order to access the API and generate an official DOE Home Energy Score, any entity must go through DOE's rigorous technical review and approval process to ensure that their tool appropriately uses the API to generate a score. Similarly, unqualified fly-by-night salespeople will not be able to generate an official Home Energy Score since each individual (even those using the scoring tool through an API-assisted other tool) needs to obtain password credentials from DOE to the HEScore.

James expresses concern that a home can be scored multiple times. We believe this is actually a healthy thing, as the alternative is to deny homeowners the ability to strive for an improved Score -- which is valuable at time of sale. He also expresses concern about qualified home inspectors performing scores. These home inspectors must meet DOE's same stringent qualification requirements (noted above).

Bud seems to think people will be forced to obtain Home Energy Scores, but the program is indeed voluntary. We believe that if a homeowner is entitled to know if a home has termites or asbestos or a foundation that may not survive an earthquake (and banks typically require this), they are also entitled to know if they are looking at an energy albatross. Transparency is central to the economic theory of efficient and properly functioning markets, and when it comes to energy efficiency that transparency is currently sorely lacking.

On the bright side is James' suggestion that a "light touch" (but certainly not 15-minutes!) and a lower-cost scoring process will help grease the skids for an investment-grade audit, which would help the existing marketplace ramp up to levels beyond what has been possible thus far. And, that's the point.

Evan ... Home owners, under the alliances with RESNET and home inspectors, will not be providing consent nor will they be in the direct loop to receive any information contained in any use of your home energy score calculator. 

Unlike Zachary's repeated statements to the contrary, these scores are not limited to being provided by BPI Building Analysts and RESNET "raters".

Permanent records are being preserved in your data base regarding homes that the home owner did not consent for you to have nor, in every case, will even be aware of the fact thay you them.

These are my primary concerns ... and this is why several of us are preparing to assist home owners who decide to seek professional assistance to recover from any damages they have incurred by the actions that I described.

P.S. --- Zachary cited an email he received that requires his HES providers to be RESNET "Raters".  I believe him that he has received this email, but I am referring directly to the DOE's website describing the RESNET requirement for HES Assessors as being "certified by RESNET providers".  InterNACHI, as stated in the link I provided, has been approved as a "RESNET Provider", according to their release.  If the DOE's web site is in error, then I suppose that I am, too, regarding this particular point.

With the exception of my stated objections ... I see no real harm or benefit from the Home Energy Score, itself.  As long as it is performed with the consent and input from the home owner, it is a novelty that might spark an interest in energy efficiency.  That could be a good thing.

I think that is the goal. FYI - I contacted the technical team about this website issue and I received an email reply stating that they would correct the website.

James - I thank you for bringing this issue to light.  Now I'm really glad I started this thread.

Zachary - I thank you for the discussion Please update us, via this thread, when the corrections are made to the Department of Energy's site.

Hopefully, they will also choose to take measures to ensure that home owners consent to a Home Energy Score before allowing a permanent record be made of it in their database, as well.  I think it is unfair and wrong to have this information not only obtained without their knowledge or consent, but to be used as leverage against them in their attempts to sell their homes.  This will NOT garner favor and approval for the Home Energy Score program among the public where resistance is already high, IMO.

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