When you walk into a new home, you’ll fall in love with the design, the decor, the open floor plan and giant windows. You won’t immediately fall in love with Energy Ratings, NFRC, BTUs, or engineered materials. But without those, you would be buying grandma’s house.

The Jetson’s are back. The Jetson’s debuted as the first color program on ABC in 1962. Their world was filled with robots, holograms, and exotic inventions that they imagined for 2062. Many of those imaginings were precursors to the smart homes and appliances we have this minute. You are buying is a beautifully designed home for the way we live today, and the future. It’s a home that the Jetson’s would love.

I’ll get into what they would love, but let’s define some terms so you know where we’re going.

Understanding a HERS index: is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. Certified Home Energy Raters conduct inspections to verify a home’s energy performance. They use what is called “The Blower Door Test.” The home is closed up, attached to a blower door that exerts pressurized air against the door to see how the home performs against leaks. Production builders will test one home for the development, custom builders test EVERY home. The HERS Index Score runs between 150 and Zero. The lower the number the higher efficiency. The energy index rewards efficiency, not conservation, but they work together.

A HERS score index of 150 means that the home is 50% less energy efficient than the standard home. The home has high energy bills, is hot in summer, cold in winter. This is grandma’s house.

A HERS score of 100 is meets the industry standard of a new home. It doesn’t mean that it is optimized for energy or Green Building. There have been lots of improvements since 2006, and built after that date are 40% more efficient.

A HERS score of 50 or below is 50% more efficient than the standard, and 80% more efficient than the average home sold. Green Built homes in Minnesota have a score of 50 or lower. A few come in at 42. How do we know?  Builders advertise that they are Green Built, and their scores. Every spring and fall the Builders Association of the Twin Cities publishes a guide to new homes for sale for the Parade. They have a Green Built section, and the list of participating builders grows every year.

What makes a house Green or highly efficient? New technology of insulation, windows, furnaces and A/C, reflective roofs, appliances, additional radiant heat, poured foundations to name a few. Not every builder uses the same, or all the materials. Each selects what they believe to be the best choices for their particular brand.

A HERS score of ZERO, is a Net Zero Energy Home. This is where it gets really interesting. Most of us are not there yet, but there actually is ONE in Minnesota. It means that the home produces as much energy as it uses through renewable sources such as solar panels, heat pumps, positioning the home for maximum sun or shelter. The advantages are reduces costs or eliminates costs of utility bills. In some areas, homeowners are selling energy back to utility companies. Why would anyone want a Net ZERO home?  It is environmentally sustainable, protects the environment by reducing greenhouse gases, and cutting carbon emissions. And the Jetson’s live right next door.

Most new construction has a HERS score of 50 or lower, it is important to you because it means rebates from energy companies, and long term savings on gas and electric. Your life and the home’s life is improved with energy saving.