As home shoppers get savvier, real estate professionals should do their best to keep up. It would not be out of place for house hunters in Bradenton or Sarasota to ask their brokers about the HERS index of a property they are looking at, and in some cases it could even be a deal breaker, meaning that potential homeowners may not even wish to look at listings that have an unacceptable HERS index.
HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System. It is a measurement or evaluation of energy efficiency in home building and potential household energy consumption and expenditures. A favorable HERS index is beneficial in many aspects, including:
- It is cost-efficient
- It could help the home buyer qualify for a financial incentive like an energy-efficient mortgage
- It means that the property is more comfortable
- It is a green product that boasts a lower carbon footprint
HERS in the Sunshine State
In terms of statutory and regulatory compliance, Florida has a comprehensive HERS that includes the Florida Building Energy Efficiency Ratings Act, rule FAC 9B-60, certified energy raters that can attest to the HERS index of a residential or commercial building, mortgage originators who are familiar with the energy-efficient home loans, etc.
Examples of favorable HERS index neighborhoods can be found in Lakewood Ranch, where residential construction follows the Florida Green Building Coalition's Green Home Standards. Some new homes in Sarasota are even compliant with the Energy Star standards and boast the familiar blue star label that is commonly found in flat-screen televisions. These homes have a low HERS index score, which runs from 150 for old homes to zero for a home that leaves virtually no carbon footprint.
National home builder Taylor Morrison, which has a strong presence in Southwest Florida, introduced a new program dedicated to residential energy efficiency on Earth Day 2012. This program visibly displays the HERS index of all Taylor Morrison homes, which will allow home shoppers to make a more educated decision when they look at properties.
Energy Efficiency Makes a Difference
An optimal HERS index is more than just saving money on utility bills, getting a break on a mortgage or just being green. It is also a matter of nature conservation, air quality, public health, and quality of life. One stroll through the newer neighborhoods of Lakewood Ranch, for example, reveals green residential planning. The homes are carefully oriented according to the climate, and they are evenly dispersed across lakes and meadows. The property interiors are fresh and airy, which cuts down on the electric bill. Comparing these homes with older Florida ranch-style home or the stuffy condominiums built in the 1970s, it is easy to understand the value of energy-efficient residential construction.