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What’s His or HERS?

Real Estate Law by Simon Offord, Esq.

Energy efficiency in the home is quickly becoming a hot topic and important consideration in the purchase and sale of residential real estate, especially in Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The passing of AB 1809 clarifies existing law and revises the definition of “home inspection” by explicitly giving consumers the option to have a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) inspection conducted by a HERS-certified inspector as part of their home inspection. The bill goes into effect January 1, 2011.

The passing of this Bill is significant because improvements in energy efficiency are among the most cost-effective ways to reduce residential energy costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This Bill can be seen as the first step towards requiring home inspections to detail energy efficiency, an idea that is being considered in several localities across the country.

Real estate professionals should provide the new HERS booklet to residential buyers to shield themselves from liability and provide notice to the consumer regarding the HERS program. Consumers should be informed of HERS as it may be an important consideration to them when buying a home.

If a consumer requests such an inspection, the report must include, at a minimum, all of the following information:

a) An overview of how the home works as a system and how to prioritize actions;

b) Quality installation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning equipment including proper sizing of equipment, duct sealing, and refrigerant charge and air flow;

c) Quality building envelope air sealing and proper levels of insulation;

d) Overview of ENERGY STAR or better products and appliances;

e) Information regarding access to a comprehensive home energy audit;

f) Non-energy benefits of improving the energy efficiency of the home including reduction of carbon emissions;

g) General statement regarding opportunities to improve the thermal envelope, mechanical equipment, lighting, and appliances in the home; and,

h) General discussion of concerns regarding combustion safety.

Currently, there are 42 HERS-certified inspectors and three accredited providers that certify HERS inspectors in California. To become a HERS-certified inspector, an individual must complete RESNET-accredited training, receive certification from a RESNET rating provider, and pass an examination. It is safe to assume that the number of HERS-certified inspectors will increase with the passing of this bill.

If you have any questions about this new bill, and how it may affect you as either a real estate professional or consumer, or any other topic of real estate law, let Brewer Offord & Pedersen LLP assist you. We can be reached at (650) 327-2900, or on the web at

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