Contractor FAQ & Guides

Contractor Guides

2015 Michigan Code Compliance Guide

Contractor HERS and Energy Star FAQ

Q: What is a HERS Rating?
A: HERS stands for the Home Energy Rating System which is an index developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (Resnet) to calculate the energy efficiency of homes. The scale runs from 0 to 500 where a 0 represents a “zero-energy” home that produces as much energy as it uses. A 500 represents the worst possible construction and climate zone. Generally, we are only concerned with scores from 100 down to zero since a 100 represents the Code Built house from 2006. Most new homes built to the 2009 or 20012 code score between 55 and 65. Remember, the lower the better. For more information about the HERS Index, see http://www.resnet.us/hers-index
Q: I was signed up as an ENERGY STAR Builder Partner, but now I’m not on the list and they won’t let me back on.
A: A few years ago, ENERGY STAR would let builders and other partners sign up for a partnership agreement on the assumption that they would build and certify a new home within 12 months of signing up. Because too many builders signed up and started using the logo without ever building and certifying a home, they now require that you build one in order to get on the list in the first place. In addition, you must certify one every year in order to stay on the list. To sign up as a NEW PARTNER, visit < href=”http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bldrs_lenders_raters.pt_bldr&s=mega” target=”_blank”>http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bldrs_lenders_raters.pt_bldr&s=mega
Q: Does a HERS Rating show that I meet code requirements?
A: Probably not, but some states and codes do allow you to show compliance by achieving a certain minimum HERS Score.
Q: My HVAC Contractor is not on the approved list. What now?
A: Unfortunately you’ll need to either find a different contractor or not have the home in question enrolled in the ENERGY STAR Homes Program. Perhaps the best course of action is to encourage your contractor to take the training and become a qualified contractor. For a list of ENERGY STAR 3.0 qualified HVAC contractors and training resources visit http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bldrs_lenders_raters.nh_hvac_contractors
Q: Do I need to insulate the foundation walls if the basement is not finished?
A: YES!!!!!!!! Remember that if we use the “Performance Path” to show compliance to the code, instead of following the letter of the code, we are allowed to make tradeoffs. HOWEVER, the code reference house to which your house will be compared HAS FOUNDATION INSULATION among other things in the code so you’ll need to find something to make up for anything you do which is less than the code reference house. That said, you MIGHT be able to put less than R-10 insulation on the foundation walls, but you’ll have to add more somewhere else. If the home is a ranch style house with a large foundation area in climate zone 5 or 6 (Great Lakes Areas) you’ll never be able to leave the foundation insulated and still meet code. ALSO, foundation insulation is the most underestimated area of home energy use in modern times. Insulating the foundation is part of the current code because it is BEST PRACTICE and VERY COST EFFECTIVE from an energy efficiency standpoint. Insulating the foundation saves hundreds of dollars per year on energy costs.
Q: I’ve tried to sell people on ENERGY STAR, but they just aren’t willing to spend the extra money. How can I get to them to pay for the upgrades?
A: Upselling home performance can be difficult in some markets but not impossible. Much of it depends on the local market and how much energy efficiency and high-performance homes are valued. The two main keys are creating awareness and demand in the marketplace and knowing how to present the upgrades as smart investments and valuable additions instead of extra costs. Working closely with a HERS Rater can really help on this front

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