Becoming a HERS rater many seem like a logical step after BPI certification. It is the only other nationally recognized energy auditor certification, is required for Energy Star Certification and LEED for Homes and has a promising future since it is likely to become integrated with the IECC down the road. However, I am being brutally honest when I say like many business ventures and marketing campaigns if you follow the path to become a HERS Rater only half-heartedly or as a back seat driver it will be a waste of your money. If you already have a successful career as a BPI energy auditor you may want to think twice before incurring the expense for HERS certification and here is why.
1. You won’t learn any new building science skills. HERS classes very quickly cover building science concepts and gloss over health and safety and house-as-a-system concepts. The companies that do HERS training aren’t aligned with the Building Performance Institute to get BPI Continuing Education Credits. The main purpose of a HERS course is to pass the HERS exam which is more about the SYSTEM in-place for data collection, REMRATE parameters and qualifying entries. There are questions on the exam regarding heat transfer and building science but a week long class is even more crammed than a BPI class since the instructor has all the building science topics to cover plus new material on HERS.
2. The costs of travel, lodging, courses, exams, probationary ratings and even finding your own test houses can add up quickly and are all separate costs! HERS Indexes require a duct blaster test be performed on the home, which is another piece of equipment which needs to be purchased. Some HERS training classes include 3 probationary ratings during the week long class, but most do not. There you also have a separate REMRATE software license fee plus the Affiliate fee for third party verification of your work for Energy Star.
3. The HERS Rating market is focused primarily on new construction, then in the mortgage industry. There is a great opportunity for energy efficient mortgages (EEMs) but the biggest hurdle is education of realtors and loan officers. Networking is a great way to meet those professionals but it takes time and persistence to crack that market. Homes being built to Energy Star standards do require a HERS Index be done but this is a totally different animal than performing energy audits and retrofits on existing homes. Usually it’s done business-to-business so you don’t have the homeowner aspect anymore which takes out the client interaction during the audit completely.
Here are the reasons why you should become a HERS Rater.
1. Energy Efficiency Mortgages or EEMs is a relatively untapped market.
2. REMRATE and REMDESIGN are great software tools to know and deepen your understanding of cost effective upgrades.
3. Code requirements for homes are becoming stricter with minimal duct leakage and better ventilation standards. RESENET has well positioned itself in the new homes industry and IECC code is headed towards duct tests and/or HERS Indexes be performed on all new homes. I don’t think this will happen for another 10 – 15 years but by getting your HERS Certification you are ahead of the game.
Just like anything if you are focused on making a successful career as a HERS Rater it takes energy, time and hard work but it can be done and the rewards are huge. We wish you luck in any endeavor you take and happy 2012!