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Building data can be modeled by a HERS Rater in a DOE-approved computer software program (IAER uses REM/Rate®, by Architectural Energy corporation) which calculates heating and cooling loads, estimated energy use, and of course the HERS Rating Index for the home. This index is reported as a whole number, '100' being international code and '0' being a net-zero energy home.
By using the basic rating information and size of the HVAC system, the economic benefit of various design changes can be determined using the REMrate software. REM/Rate generates several reports showing the energy profile of the home as well as an analysis of any improvements. For example, adding insulation to the home can be simulated to see how much would be saved in utility expenses. From this type of analysis we can determine if it would save more on energy costs than the cost to do the upgrade. By utilizing this type of information a builder, architect or homeowner could make informed decisions as to what energy design elements should be incorporated into the home.
A rating of 100 or lower indicates that the house is as efficient or more efficient than the International Energy Conservation Code. Each one point drop in the index represent a one per cent change in energy use compared to the base house fixed at 100.
A house receiving a rating index of 85 or lower qualifies for possible inclusion in the nation-wide listing of Energy Star Homes by the EPA.