How To Pass A HERS Rating in MA in 2023 and Beyond

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How to pass a HERS rating in Massachusetts got a little harder starting this year and will get even more difficult in 2024 and beyond. Fortunately, there are some steps to help assure a passing grade. 

heat pump-pass-hers rating massachusetts

Energy Efficient Heating & Cooling Equipment 

Consider installing electric Heat Pumps for all your heating and cooling. These units have a positive effect on the HERS score. 

Unfortunately, it is still a common practice for HVAC contractors to oversize equipment which wastes a lot of energy. Accurate load calculations should be based on the Projected HERS Report so that properly sized equipment is installed. This report also clearly states the required insulation levels as well as other important energy-related factors.

Whenever possible, all heating and cooling equipment, including ductwork, should be installed within the conditioned space. Doing so may allow the required Duct Leakage test to be waived.

Other things worth noting about heat pumps:

  • Heat Pumps must be installed by an approved contractor.
  • Heat Pumps must meet Energy Star Cold-Climate Specifications or be on the Heat Pump Qualified Product List.
  • Heat Pumps can be either ducted or non-ducted. 

Energy Efficient Domestic Hot Water  

Consider installing an Air Source Heat Pump Water Heater. These units have a positive effect on the HERS score and will improve your abiity to pass a HERS rating.

Other things worth considering:

  • Whenever possible, minimize the distance between the water heater and the plumbing fixtures it serves. The shorter the distance the less energy lost in transit.
  • Stacked plumbing will reduce the distance that heated water must travel between floors.
  • Pipe insulation will help retain heat as the water moves.
  • Air Source Heat Pump Water Heaters give off cool air and may increase the heating load. HVAC contractors should include this factor when calculating heating loads for sizing equipment.

Energy Efficient Appliances & Lighting

All appliances listed below should be Energy Star and all lighting must be LED. 

  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer

Fresh Air Ventilation

Also, to pass a HERS rating, Consider installing Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV). These units have a positive effect on the HERS score. They provide a balanced ventilation system that exhausts stale air while bringing in fresh outside air in equal amounts. Within the ERV unit itself incoming air is mixed with outgoing air and thus tempered before being circulated throughout the home. 

Other things worth considering:

  • ERV’s should be sized based on the square footage and the number of bedrooms in the home.
  • In order to meet the 2018 IECC they should exhaust 1.2 CFM for every watt of electricity consumed.
  • These units function best when using their own designated ductwork as opposed to being integrated into the ductwork used for heating and cooling.

Air Change Per Hour (ACH)

Air changes per hour, abbreviated as ACH, is the number of times that the total air volume in a space is completely removed and replaced with outside air within one hour. Air changes occur because of leaks and penetrations in the thermal envelope. The lower the ACH number the tighter the home.

The equipment used to measure ACH is called a Blower Door. 

Other things worth considering:

  • Caulk the gap between the plywood subfloor and the exterior wall plates
  • Caulk and foam all penetrations through the thermal envelope
  • Consider filling the exterior wall cavities with spray foam insulation instead of fiberglass batt insulation. It does a great job air sealing as it fills all the nooks and crannies.
  • On a budget? Consider installing a thin layer of spray foam insulation in the exterior walls and fill the rest with standard fiberglass batt insulation. In most cases a thin layer is all that is needed to air seal.

In Closing About How to Pass A HERS Rating in MA

Homebuilding is evolving and builders need to be informed. Progressive states like Massachusetts are doing their part to promote and encourage energy efficiency both in new construction and major renovations. We expect other states like Rhode Island to follow. 

HERS Raters and other professionals in the industry will be the go-to for building planning, consulting and verification. They will play a key role in educating builders and homeowners.

Incentives & Rebates for Home Energy Efficient Projects

Fortunately, with programs such as Mass Save, EnergyWise and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, there should be a lot of great rebates and incentives available for years to come to help offset the additional costs of specialized equipment that will help your home pass a HERS rating.

Want to Learn More on How Pass A HERS Rating?

If you’d like more information on how you can minimize energy consumption and maximize savings while making your home more comfortable all year round, then contact Energy Geeks. Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive and efficient solutions to reduce energy use in your home. Call401-766-1540  |  508-444-9800  |  Get No Cost Estimate

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