Award Gallery

Scoring tool developed by DOE labs helps consumers understand their homes’ energy efficiency

Award: Impact Award

Year: 2022

Award Type: National

Laboratories:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Like a miles-per-gallon rating for vehicles, a new scoring tool developed by three Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories gives consumers a standardized, easy-to-understand assessment of home energy performance. 

Home Energy Score™ (HEScore) is a suite of web-based services based on a computer simulation that calculates energy usage ratings for existing homes. The scoring tool translates facts about a home — such as square footage, number of rooms, and heating/cooling systems—into a numerical rating of its energy performance compared with other homes across the market.  

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) collaboratively developed HEScore in response to a White House directive tasking DOE with creating a home energy rating system to motivate homeowner investment in energy-efficient improvements.  

The technology’s primary beneficiaries are homeowners, buyers and renters, who can use it to better understand their home energy use, prioritize cost-effective energy improvements, and project cost savings. The tool may suggest and quantify savings associated with replacing a cooling unit or water heater, for example, or upgrading insulation.  

HEScore data also can help inform and influence public awareness and behaviors regarding home energy efficiency. For example, some cities now require HEScore ratings for homes listed for sale on their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or offer score-based incentives. 

Scores are provided in a simple graphic and are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being most efficient, using a set of criteria that reliably characterize a home’s energy footprint. The score reflects fixed home components rather than energy use characteristics that fluctuate with occupant behavior, such as thermostat settings. 

The tool's primary beneficiaries are homeowners, buyers and renters, who can use it to better understand their home energy use, prioritize cost-effective energy improvements, and project cost savings.  

A free web-based tool is available without license agreements but requires registration as an Energy Partner and training of certified assessors. Third-party application programming interface (API) access is also free, with validation by DOE required prior to software release. 

Hundreds of HEScore-certified assessors have generated hundreds of thousands of Home Energy Scores nationwide. More than 160 companies — including sole proprietors, home inspectors and energy auditors — are providing scores as part of their services. In addition, 12 software developers offer HEScore in their products.  

An initial version of HEScore was tested with early adopters beginning in 2012. Teams at PNNL, LBNL and NREL have continued to collaborate since then to make significant improvements. They recently replaced the underlying HEScore model with an advanced computer simulation framework that enhances capabilities and provides technical staying power in the market, and also added administrative and reporting features along with user-friendly graphic interfaces.  

This work transformed HEScore into a commercial software solution package that supports broad market adoption and can maintain technical relevance as new technologies and methods emerge.  

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