(HERS) Score! The Rice Lake Farmhouse is complete and Certified Low Energy!

We just received a HERS score of 34 for this new house in Wisconsin with no renewable energy systems (yet). I couldn’t be happier about this, for a couple reasons. First, of course, is the fact that this passive solar designed, super-insulated home is predicted to use 66% less energy than a new home built to current WI code would use. And second, because the HERS score provided through the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program confirms the estimations of our own in house energy modeling efforts.

So, for those of you (still) reading who are not energy geeks, you may be wondering what a HERS rating is, and why all the fuss? The HERS index is a nationally recognized rating system for single family homes that “rates” the predicted energy consumption of a new home relative to a baseline home (of the same design in the same location). A HERS score is obtained with a third party rater, who not only enters the building design and systems specifications into an energy model, but also makes periodic site visits during construction to verify the levels and quality of insulation, assembly details, products used, and air tightness of the building.

The lower the HERS score, the lower the predicted energy consumption of the home. A HERS score of zero indicates a home expected to be net zero energy (like the Echo Lake Home we designed, featured in Green Building Advisor). A score of 100 would indicate a home built to the current energy code. A score higher than 100 indicates a home less efficient than a new home built to code.

Our friends at Unity Homes in New Hampshire wrote a great blog piece explaining the HERS rating system:

Energy Ratings and Alphabet Soup: HERS, LEED, ZERH and more

We’ll write more in another post about the Rice Lake Farmhouse, once the owner has finished decorating and lets me back in for final photographs. The house isn’t just low energy, it is also a beautiful, modern home that takes its inspiration from the tradition of the Swedish farmhouse.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo taken on June 21, the Summer solstice. And note the shading across the south facing windows!