Friends constructing a home.
The Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity has consistently earned low consistently scores for its energy efficiency. Photo: Pixabay.

Boise Valley Habitat For Humanity earns low marks on its HERS home energy efficiency rating

With the rating, homeowners in the service area of Ada County can pay less for their electric bills.



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At the Boise Valley branch of Habitat for Humanity, the goal, like the national organization, is to build more sustainable homes. Recently, that work paid off as the branch saw positive results from its HERS energy performance measurement.

Matt Vandermeer, owner of Momentum, an energy compliance testing company, had this to say:

[Habitat] is a little bit better than most builders. They take the time to build with their volunteers where most builds today are rushed so there's not enough time and effort put into a home.

A constant effort

Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity has consistently earned low energy efficiency scores for its homes built in Ada County thanks to its high-quality volunteer work.

A home's HERS score is a relative performance score, indicating that the lower the number, the more energy efficient the home will be.

“I'd say in today’s measurements [a good score] would be 65 to 70. That is 30 percent better than 100, which 100 is a 2006 code home. So, that’s 30 percent better than a home built 16 years ago,” added Vandermeer.

Habitat's lowest and most energy efficient score was a HERS score of 54, and Vandermeer called the score above average.

Benefits of a low score

Energy efficiency allows a homeowner to save money on their electric bill, while keeping the home warmer in the Winter and cooler in the Summer.

With less air escaping through penetrations like cables and plumbing, a home can be considered more energy efficient.

“When we build homes that are high quality craftsmanship, our homeowners have more freedom with their finances. If you’re not paying a large energy bill, you can pay for your children’s sports team, donate to non-profits, and invest in your community,” said Janessa Chastain, Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity executive director.

The boost of volunteering

Working together, Habitat volunteers and prospective homeowners not only install products that promote energy efficiency, but also receive education from Momentum on the how and why of their efforts.

Construction highlights include:

  • Installing all Energy-Star certified appliances
  • Offering triple-glazed windows and LED lighting
  • Using low-water landscaping (xeriscape) to reduce homeowners' water consumption

“All the aforementioned items are contributors to our low scores. It does take a few more steps in the build process, but the satisfaction of knowing we are building some of the most energy efficient homes in Ada County makes us all feel good about what we are doing,” said Paul Thompson, Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity construction manager.


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