WASHINGTON - Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu launched the Home Energy Score pilot program at a Middle Class Task Force event on Nov. 9. According to the DOE, the Home Energy Score will offer homeowners straightforward, reliable information about their homes’ energy efficiency. Through this program, consumers will receive a report with a home energy score between 1 and 10, showing them how their home compares to others in their region.

“The Home Energy Score will help make energy efficiency easy and accessible to America’s families by providing them with straightforward and reliable information about their homes’ energy performance and specific, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will save them money on their monthly energy bills,” Chu said.

Under this voluntary program, trained and certified contractors will use a standardized assessment tool developed by the DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to quickly evaluate a home and generate actionable information for homeowners or prospective homebuyers. With only about 40 inputs required, the Home Energy Scoring Tool lets a contractor evaluate a home’s energy assets (like its heating and cooling systems, insulation levels, and more) in generally less than an hour. That means a homeowner can see how his or her home’s systems score, regardless of whether a particular homeowner takes long or short showers, or keeps the thermostat set high or low.

A score of 10 represents a home with excellent energy performance; a 1 represents a home that would benefit from major energy upgrades. Along with the score, the homeowner will receive a list of recommendations for energy upgrades and other useful tips. The estimated utility bill savings, payback period, and greenhouse gas emission reductions are included for each specific improvement. To see a sample copy of the Home Energy Score and get more information on how it is calculated, visit the Home Energy Score website at www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/homeenergyscore.

The Home Energy Score initially will be tested with local government, utility, and nonprofit partners in 10 pilot communities across the country in both urban and rural areas over a wide range of climates. During this test phase, DOE and its partners will gauge how homeowners respond to the program, and whether the information encourages them to get energy improvements done on their homes. After the pilot tests conclude in late spring 2011, DOE expects to launch the Home Energy Score nationally later in the year, based on findings from the initial programs.

The following states and municipalities are participating in the pilot program: Charlottesville, Va.; Allegheny County, Pa.; Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; Minnesota; Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; Indiana; Portland, Ore.; South Carolina; Texas; and Eagle County, Colo.

DOE also released the “Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades” for workers in the residential energy efficiency industry. According to the department, these guidelines will help develop and expand the skills of the work force, ensuring the quality of the work performed while laying the foundation for a more robust worker certification and training program nationwide.

The guidelines include standard work specs required for high-quality work, a reference guide for technical standards and codes, analyses of the job tasks involved in completing various energy efficiency improvements, and the minimum qualifications workers should possess to perform high-quality work. The guidelines, which can be accessed on the Weatherization website at www1.eere.energy.gov/wip/retrofit_guidelines.html, will be available for public comment through Jan. 7, 2011.

Publication date:11/29/2010