RESNET has been sending out an email a week about new mega home builders who are planning on advertising the HERS Index of their projects. Here's the most recent list: http://bit.ly/oDe7fz
I'm curious how long it will take for these companies to realize that consumers don't have a clue what "HERS Index" means, and abandon the process.
I'd like to suggest one change (albeit quite large) that could greatly improve the chances of this trend sticking. Give consumers a bit of help here...and change the name of the "HERS Index" to something that is even slightly intuitive. Having builders market / explain the label is part of of the plan, but good marketing begins with a good product name.
It amazes me that "low-e" has meaning to consumers... However, the most important window labels, "U-Value" and "SHGC," still have absolutely no meaning to most people, including a fair amount of folks in the construction industry!
Your going to find that this will be common soon enough. All that the home owners have to know is that a HERS index is like a golf score. The lower the better and that is pretty easy to understand. Two golfers might look alike, but you probably want the one that shoots in the 70s, not the 100s. I told one of my customers what the letters stood for and she said "Oh, I get it, it gives a score for how efficient the home is." Pretty simple.
Realtors are becoming more educated on them and will be able to use them as a sales tool, so home buyers and home owners will be right behind them. There is actually a spot to list a HERS Index on many of the MLS listings for home sales. Most people understand simple numbers and will now be able to compare similar homes just by a picture.
Because the requirements for Energy Star Version 3 are so strict, many builders are not going to want to deal with the added cost. You can guarantee that they will use the HERS Index as a sales tool also.
So it may not be sexy, but once it becomes a common term, it won't be an issue. How sexy is the name Kleenex and what part of the name tells you that its something to blow your nose into?
I agree with Kyle that most people understand simple numbers but disagree that homeowners will be able to use the HERS index to compare homes. A bungalow and a McMansion can have the same HERS score since it masks house size. Further, since it refers to a baseline energy code (IECC),and that reference changes over time, the HERS score will not offer much value. It would be like have an MPG rating for your car that fluctuated over time based on the CAFE standard in place.
Sean - I agree with you in the fact that it is not a perfect tool. But when it comes to comparing houses, people aren't going to compare a bungalow to a McMansion. To stick with your car analogy, that's like saying I went car shopping and I couldn't decide on the Yugo or the Ferrari. Their going to want one or the other. So when comparing homes of similar size and design, it is a useful tool.
Kyle - Considering that fact that I am a HERS Rater, I hope it doesn't take 87 years to catch on either, but something tells me it won't take quite that long. With the rise in fuel and utility costs, people are becoming more aware and educated on subjects such as these. With your background, I am sure you could explain it to them easily. Maybe we should start a "Ask Me About My HERS Index" campaign!
Chris - Thanks for the info. True fact based statements usually help to make a point. I also like your choice of Allison Bailes because he is my HERS provider. For those of you reading this and don't know who he is, I suggest that you find out.
Now that's what i'm talking about: "Ask Me About My HERS Index" ...that's seriously funny, creative, and would definitely draw some attention!! I'm laughing out loud right now. Mind if i put that on a T-Shirt!?
Really though, marketing is the issue. I think your right... "HERS Index" could work...but it's going to need to be hammered into the brains of consumers with some catchy, creative, and prolific marketing! Does RESNET have a marketing committee?
You could include that as a parting gift for your HERS classes. It could actually be turned into a nation wide campaign with the right backing, but I'm not sure if RESNET would be a good choice.
I also agree that the HERS Index term will have to be hammered home and it will be our (everyone in our industry) responsibility to do so. I know its baby steps, but that's how a lot of movements get started.
A committee - I am not sure of, but they are getting the message - https://www.resnet.us/uploads/brochures/HERS_brochure_14.04.11v1.pdf is one brochure they have put out (editable for a company's logos) & another one was released just about a month ago, which I don't see it on their site yet
Jon - love that tag line & definetly agree about Allison,
According to Wikipedia, the first Kleenex ad ran in 1924... and have ran continuously for the last 87 years! Also, it appears that it was teh first ever "disposable handkerchief" product to be marketed to the public...so for all intensive purposes, a tissue is in fact a Kleenex! The market is so saturated these days that it's extremely hard to stand out. I hope you're right though. I hope "HERS Index" catches on and becomes a household name....though, sometime sooner than 87 years from now!
Your HERS Score comes in handy in several places:
- Stand-alone score: By itself, it gives you a good idea of how your home compares to a baseline home. I’m a firm believer that when we have quantitative values to use for comparison we are able to better define how we need to improve. For instance, you can get a certified Home Energy Rater to analyze your home on date 1, then you can make the suggested improvement, and at date 2 you can get your home rated again to see how much your score has improved.
- LEED for Homes: If you want to get a LEED score for your home, like Lorraine and Judd Horalby who we covered in our post on LEED for Homes, then chances are it will utilize the HERS index to help determine what level of LEED status your home will achieve.
- Energy Star for Homes: Energy Star for Homes is different than Home Star (a.k.a. Cash for Caulkers bill) but is yet another energy efficient stamp of approval (just like LEED for Homes is). LEED for Homes is monitored by the U.S. Green Building Council (which actually is not a government program, it is a non-profit) while Energy Star for Homes is a joint project by the U.S. DOE and EPA. The EnergyStar website has a nice summary of the relationship between the HERS Index and Energy Star for Homes: “A home energy rating involves an analysis of a home’s construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home’s plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficiency software package to perform an energy analysis of the home’s design. This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index. Upon completion of the plan review, the rater will work with the builder to identify the energy efficiency improvements needed to ensure the house will meet ENERGY STAR performance guidelines.”