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The U.S. Department of Energy continues to make headway in its effort to create a standardized Home Energy Score for every existing home, Joan Glickman, the department’s special assistant for renewable energy, reported recently to the housing industry.
DOE began the effort in the fall of 2009 and its goal is to roll out the program by the end of this year.
The Chicago area has been added to nine other areas where pilot programs are being conducted — including Allegheny Co., Pa.; Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; greater Charlottesville, Va.; Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; Portland, Ore.; and the states of Indiana, Minnesota, South Carolina and Texas. Colorado was originally on the list but has dropped out.
Although they are not part of the pilot program, other jurisdictions are providing additional data, Glickman said.
Projects have been chosen over various climate zones so that the scoring tool will be able to take differences between cold and warm climates into account.
So far, Glickman said, 43 assessors have been trained to collect and analyze data on existing homes in the pilot program areas. That data will be compared to more comprehensive existing data for similar buildings and to other scoring tools, to ensure that the Home Energy Score data is reliable.
Testing results also will be compared to utility bills to see how well they reflect the actual usage of energy in the home.
At some sites, home owners will be asked to provide information from the previous four months' worth of utility bills, the number of people residing in the home, the age of the residents and how the family uses the home.
The scores will be adjusted to reflect an assumption that two adults and a child live in the home, and that the thermostats for all the homes are set at the same level.
DOE is considering labeling each score with the types of energy used — electric, gas, oil and other sources.
The homes will be grouped into two size categories — less than 2,200 square feet and greater than 2,200 square feet for comparison purposes.
The scores for individual homes will be able to be compared to the range of scores for the top 20% most energy-efficient homes.
Glickman stressed that the home energy score is not the same as a more comprehensive home energy audit, which it will recommend home owners conduct to obtain more detailed results.
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