Residential Energy Score Project

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About The Project

The Residential Energy Score Project (RESP) is a first-of-its kind project that is seeking to create strong market demand for energy efficiency in existing houses and, by extension, to reduce utility costs for homeowners, to increase energy literacy, and to help promote the county’s sustainability goals.

RESP is a partnership of the Town of Caroline, Danby, Ulysses, and Ithaca, the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County, and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Project funding for the planning phase of this project, which resulted in the Tompkins Residential Energy Score Program and Implementation Plan, was provided by NYSERDA, through the Cleaner Greener Communities program.

The project aims to create a voluntary program where homeowners could get a home energy score that could be shared with prospective buyers, tenants, or other interested parties. We are developing a local label that will give homeowners and prospective home-buyers information about the energy efficiency of the physical structure of a home, including the heating system, air sealing, and insulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a “Home Energy Score”?

A home energy score, also called a home energy rating, is an easy-to-understand assessment of the relative energy efficiency of a home. It is often compared to a miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating for a car. Two scoring systems that are being used widely across the country are the Residential Energy Services Network’s Home Energy Rating System Index (HERS Index, and the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score (DOE HES,

2. Why should I get a score for my house?

A home energy score will tell you how energy efficient your home is compared to other homes in our area. Knowing your home energy score will also help you to find out how to improve your comfort, the indoor air quality, and save money on your utility bills. The score will help you determine what work you could do to improve energy efficiency. If you are selling your house, the score will give potential buyers an idea of the utility costs. If you are buying a home, comparing scores will inform you of future utility costs. As more houses are scored and energy improvements are made, we will be working toward meeting the County goals for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

3. Do I have to get a score for my house?

No. The end result of this project is to implement a voluntary program for home energy scores in the County. The more homes that have an energy score the better educated the community is about energy use and the better educated home buyers are in making decisions on purchases.

4. How do I get a score and who does it?

Right now, before we roll out a voluntary program, you can get a score by contacting HES or HERS professionals via the following links: HES:; HERS: More professionals will be needed in our area to meet the need of the voluntary program demand for home energy scores.

5. Will I have to pay for it? How much does it cost?

The cost of a home energy score varies, depending on the rating system used. Our research shows that costs are typically between $300 and $500. This project is actively studying how to make the process accessible and affordable to our entire community, including low-income populations. This may mean tying the rating to an existing program or finding a source of funding to cover costs.

6. Is getting a rating complicated?

No, once you set up an appointment, the score professionals will need to be in your house for one to three hours.

7. Will a rating affect my home’s value?

There is no evidence that a home energy score will affect the assessed value or sale price of a home. This subject is currently being researched.

8. How is a home energy score different from an energy audit?

The score gives a very brief overview of the energy efficiency of a home; this information fits on a small label. On the other hand, an energy audit will produce an extensive report that provides much more detailed information about the characteristics of the home and how it uses energy, the type and efficiency of energy-using systems, and the recommended improvements.

9. Will I have to make improvements to my home if I get a bad rating?

Getting a score does not require improvements, but gives you the information you need in order to make decisions about the need for upgrades.

10. If I want to make improvements to my home, what can I do and what are the financing options?

If you are looking to do improvements, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County for a list of contractors (, 607-272-2292). NYSERDA maintains a list of statewide partners for every program they offer: Financing options are available through a number of NYSERDA programs.

Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star provides those who qualify with a discount covering 50% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency improvements up to $5,000 per project for single-family homes. Two- to four-unit residential homes with income-eligible residents may qualify for a discount of up to $10,000:

EmPower New York provides no-cost energy efficiency solutions to income-eligible New Yorkers:

More programs are described here:{71602961-B593-49A7-AD1B-7D5EF547BDFF}

To find out more about local, state, and federal incentive programs, visit

11. Where can I learn more about energy scores?

HERS Index: 
Short video about HERS:
HES information:


Latest News

The Tompkins Residential Energy Score Program and Implementation plan was endorsed by all five partner municipalities. The Program is to be implemented as soon as funding allows. The project team is currently exploring options for a program host and funding sources. 

Press Coverage

Public Input Sought for Residential Energy Score Project – Press Release, February 26, 2016

Better Building Practices Spotlighted – Tompkins Weekly, September 7, 2015 

Home Energy Ratings Planned – Tompkins Weekly, June 8, 2015

Municipalities Launch Residential Energy Score Project – Press Release, May 27, 2015