City of Tallahassee Utilities recently announced a $2,000 energy efficiency rebate as part of its New Homes Program. In addition to encouraging energy-efficient new construction, the New Homes Program will likely lead to an increase in HERS Rater jobs in the Florida Panhandle.
For more information about RESNET, jump over to our New to RESNET? Start Here section. If you’re relatively familiar with the RESNET HERS Rater Certification for home energy auditors, keep reading!
Although it appears that the rebate itself is meant for homeowners, the attractive dollar amount will cause homeowners to seek builders with knowledge of the New Homes Program and energy-efficient skills so that they can be eligible to achieve the reward. Studies have shown that homeowners are becoming more interested in smart, high performance homes. In fact, many are willing to pay top dollar upfront for an energy-efficient house, knowing that they will see monthly energy savings. Now, with a financial incentive hanging over their head, they’re even more likely to pursue an energy-efficient home.
About the Tallahassee New Homes Program
What It Is
The Tallahassee New Homes Program offers a rebate of $1.00 per square foot for the purchase or construction of a HERS rated, ENERGY STAR certified home (up to a maximum rebate of $2,000).
Who May Participate
Owners of ENERGY STAR qualified homes, including single-family detached, single-family attached, low-rise multifamily, and existing-home renovations. The home must be served by City of Tallahassee Electric, utilize natural gas for water heating, and achieve ENERGY STAR qualification under current guidelines.
How to Qualify
The program requires that:
- a homebuilder works with a third-party energy rater, specifically a RESNET-certified Level 1 HERS Rater,
- the certified RESNET HERS Rater produces a confirmed HERS Index Score, and
- the home qualifies for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program
The Tallahassee New Homes Program is just another reason why local home performance contractors should pursue RESNET HERS Rater Certification. As this program grows, there will certainly be more HERS Rater jobs to fill. Let’s take a look at the building blocks that led us to where we are now.
Florida Legislation Encourages HERS Rater Jobs
April 2016 – State of Florida Adopted the Energy Rating Index
The Energy Rating Index (ERI) energy code performance option allows homebuilders to achieve, or more likely surpass, local energy code requirements by incorporating energy-efficient products and building techniques that are better-than-code-requirements into their project.
To do this, homebuilders will hire a HERS Rater to perform home energy modeling and home energy auditing services. In addition to providing energy efficiency recommendations, a HERS Rater will also produce an energy efficiency score. The score represents the energy efficiency of the home. HERS Index Scores range from 0-150, where 0 is considered a net-zero energy home (produces as much energy as it consumes). The average house built to code lands at a score of about 100. HERS Raters use building science to encourage energy-efficient products and building strategies, with the goal of lowering the HERS Score.
Note that the Energy Rating Index is not the same as the HERS Index; however, the ERI was largely based on the HERS Index. In fact, the Florida Solar Energy Center conducted an analysis of HERS Index Scores for homes in 16 cities distributed throughout the climate zones to form their basis of the ERI Index. Because the ERI Index is designed to push maximum energy efficiency, it’s top-tier number is 100 (unlike 150 for the HERS Index). Due to their experience working with HERS Index Scores, HERS Raters are usually the professionals who get called in to assist with ERI Scores. There’s a natural relationship here, leading to more HERS Rater jobs.
The State of Florida has announced that an ERI score of 58 (or lower) can satisfy energy code requirements when pursuing the energy code performance compliance path. So, there’s already a natural market for HERS Rater jobs in Florida due to energy code compliance.
For more information about energy code compliance, see our related post: 2015 IECC Code: A Look at Builders’ Options.
Please note, however, that the State of Florida has not specifically adopted the 2015 IECC. Florida has a “state specific” residential energy code.
July 2017 – Florida Energy Code Requires Blower Door Testing on New Homes
We already know that a HERS Rater will be called upon to supply the ERI score for energy code compliance. But the State of Florida has also included a clause in its newest energy code that requires blower door testing to be performed by a certified third party.
Who might qualify as a certified third party for blower door testing? You guessed it! A HERS Rater!
One of the diagnostic tests that a HERS Rater performs while doing a home energy rating is a blower door test.
For more information about this skill set, please visit our Blower Door Testing page.
As you can see, homebuilders frequently work with HERS Raters as a means of meeting building code requirements. The Tallahassee New Homes Program is simply another opportunity for homebuilders and HERS Raters to work together!
The Relationship Between ENERGY STAR and RESNET
The New Homes Program wisely pairs together the activities of a certified RESNET HERS Rater and the desirable ENERGY STAR Homes Certification.
Both programs focus on improving energy efficiency in new homes. In fact, the two programs are uniquely tied together.
RESNET HERS Raters Focus on Home Performance and Work Toward Code Compliance
Using building science and diagnostic testing, HERS Raters perform comprehensive home energy audits, energy efficiency recommendations, HERS Score verification, and energy code compliance.
These skills lay the foundation for achieving ENERGY STAR Homes Certification.
What is an ENERGY STAR Home?
ENERGY STAR homes are at least 15% more energy-efficient than homes built to the current International Energy Conservation Code and include energy-saving features that typically make them 20-30% more efficient than standard homes. ENERGY STAR homebuyers will enjoy better energy performance, greater comfort, and lower utility bills.
Given the breadth of technical knowledge that a HERS Rater possesses, the EPA ENERGY STAR program is only available to certified HERS Raters. In other words, HERS Raters are the only professionals who are able to service and inspect ENERGY STAR-qualified homes.
Since HERS Raters are qualified to assess energy performance in new construction homes with the goal of meeting or surpassing energy code requirements, they are the perfect choice to also service ENERGY STAR Homes! They are already familiar with leading energy-efficient building practices and energy code requirements. The leap from RESNET HERS to ENERGY STAR is fairly mild in that the technical knowledge builds on the foundation that a HERS Rater already possesses. Essentially, a HERS Rater must become familiar with the ENERGY STAR guidebooks and standards for home features and systems. HERS Raters are required to participate in a unique ENERGY STAR training and certification process (which they can count toward their RESNET continuing education).
When a homebuilder hires a HERS Rater, he/she can move forward confidently knowing that the HERS Rater will evaluate the home’s energy use, produce a qualified HERS Score, and proficiently prepare the home for ENERGY STAR Certification.
HERS Rater Jobs: Positive Employment Outlook in Tallahassee
If you plan to work in a residential trade, such as HVAC, home inspection, or energy auditing, and you want to give your resume a boost, you should become a HERS Rater.
As we’ve mentioned, certified HERS Raters are qualified to perform third-party blower door and duct leakage tests as well as whole-house energy audits and home energy ratings.
Florida Blower Door Test Certification is booming due to the energy code requirement and will certainly continue thanks to utility rebate programs, like the one in Tallahassee.
In fact, according to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, 58% of utilities nationally that had new homes programs in 2017 used the HERS Index as their verification method. This type of residential work isn’t going away.
Especially in the case of Tallahassee, which is the Florida state capital, HERS Rater jobs will be plentiful due to the New Homes Program; the City of Tallahassee utility has over 30,000 customers and is the 22nd largest municipal electric utility in the U.S.
Given the size of the utility’s customer base, the financial incentive, the inherent consumer demand for energy efficiency, and the Florida building code blower door test requirement, it’s a win-win-win-win for local home energy professionals to pursue RESNET HERS Rater Certification!
If you want to be an early adopter and gain a marketable advantage over your competitors, start with Everblue’s HERS Rater Training today! Our top-rated program is completely online, making it convenient and affordable for you to get trained and certified in no time. We provide you with everything you need, including blower door equipment discounts and covered costs for the RESNET HERS Rater Certification exams. To chat more about the HERS Rater Certification process, give us a call at (800) 460-2575.