Buying a home is a big, expensive deal.  It’s important that you know what you’re getting.  Ideally, prior to purchase, you should know about its performance in at least four categories: energy use, water use, indoor air quality, and building integrity.  But, as a nation, we’re not there yet.  We’re getting there, though.

Innovative Philadelphia-based developer Postgreen Homes is on the job in this regard.  The company, developer of the 100k House and Passive Project, introduced this Home Performance Sticker on their blog yesterday.  The sticker is based on the HERS Index, which provides an estimate of home performance and energy bills.

Since the HERS Index rating is derived from a third-party inspection, the information is certainly helpful.  It all depends on how the occupant uses the place.  If a purchaser grows grass in the basement, runs a call center in the loft, opens all the windows while running the HVAC system, and never shuts the fridge, the sticker won’t mean much.

Nic Darling, marketing and PR guy for Postgreen, said in the article: “We have talked about simple, mileage-style window stickers for homes before, but for some reason all that talk never led to action. We never actually created one for our own homes. Well, it’s time that oversight was addressed.”

Postgreen’s sticker is clear in that is shows the entire HERS Index spectrum and identifies where the average existing home, new home, and Energy Star home would be.  At a 24, the represented home is a serious stud.  Plus, like a car label, the viewer can see that the home has superior insulation, triple-pane windows, Energy Star appliances, etc.

Compare this to what KB Home unveiled the other day.

KB’s Energy Performance Guide is a step in the same direction and an innovation in the big builder realm.  That said, from my viewing, the guide could be slightly ambiguous.

The way they’ve presented the “Spend More,” “Save More,” red to green spectrum, one might get the idea that a home with a HERS Index of 82 is better than it actually is.  It doesn’t reveal any of the territory from 50-0 in the HERS Index.

In any event, the need for a home label akin to the food nutrition label has been discussed here and other places for some time – e.g., the Energy Performance Score and Home Energy Score.  It’s a downright travesty that homes haven’t had them over the last 40-50 years, but I like where we’re heading. 

What do you think of these home performance labels?