-About Home Energy Rating Systems ( H.E.R.S )
-Will an EEM make my loan more difficult?
-What Climate zone am I in?
-How long has the EEM been available?
-What is HERS?
Q: What is HERS?
A: HERS stands for Home Energy Rating Systems. HERS are energy evaluation programs recognized by the federal government. They are set up specifically to provide energy information on homes so people can benefit from the Energy Efficient Mortgage.
Q: What happens on a HERS Rating?
A: The Rater will inspect all aspects of the home which affect the energy efficiency: They will look in the attic and under the house; check the wall insulation; examine the furnace, water heater, air conditioner and other appliances; measure each wall and window. They make a drawing of the house and record all the other information. It usually takes them about an hour to ninety minutes. Then they take the information back to their office and enter the information into a computer. The lender uses the rating certificate in funding your Energy Efficient Mortgage.
Q: Who do the Raters work for?
A: The Raters are usually self-employed. Some work for larger energy consulting, inspection or appraisal companies.
Q: Who pays for the rating?
A: The rating can be paid for by the lender, Realtor, buyer, seller or the current homeowner who wants to remodel. In some cases, the cost of the rating can be financed into the mortgage itself. Check with your lender.
Q: Can the HERS Rater recommend the measures I want?
A: No. The HERS Rater uses the sophisticated HERS Rating computer program which makes recommendations for cost-effective measures. It is possible that some of the things you want will be cost effective and the computer will recommend them. This system helps eliminate the possibility of errors or fraud on the part of the Rater.
Q: How do I know that the Rater will recommend only those things that will save me money?
A: The Rater does not make the recommendation. The HERS computer program analyzes the house and then calculates which recommendations will save the most money. The computer uses climate data and information from reputable sources such as state energy commissions and utility companies.
Q: Can we use HERS if we are not refinancing, selling or buying?
A: Yes. Hers provides excellent information about your current home. You can use this information to plan a remodel, or just to verify the energy efficiency of your house.
About HERS, EEMs and How They Work Together:
Q: Can I get double-pane windows (or some other specific item)?
A: Under certain circumstances, you may be able to include double-paned windows or other items. The lender can lend extra money for anything recommended in a HERS report. If double-paned windows are recommended, they can be included in the EEM. Sometimes they can be included even if they are not recommended as cost effective, but only if there is enough savings in the rest of the recommendation package to cover the extra cost of the windows. Consult with your lender.
Q: How do I know I will save money?
A: The EEM cannot be done unless the customer will actually save money. Only those items recommended by the HERS report will be installed. A HERS program will only recommend upgrades that are cost-effective -- items which will save you more money than they cost.
Q: The house I want is a real "fixer-upper." Will an EEM help me?
A: Yes. The EEM can fund needed energy upgrades while you spend your valuable cash reserves on other important items.
Q: I'm not buying or selling my home now, but I want to remodel. Can this help me?
A: Yes it can. You can actually make your entire home more economical if you include energy efficiency in your remodel plans. A HERS Rating will tell you what energy items you should address. Then you can choose how you will pay for the entire job. You could use cash or credit, or refinance your home using the Energy Efficient Mortgage.
Q: I'm a contractor and only changed out the condenser. Do I need a Duct Test?
A: Yes. As of Oct 2005 changing or adding the coil, condenser, furnace or adding more than 40 feet of ducting, requires a duct test in climate zones 2 & 9-16. The City requires the CF-6R and CF-4R forms before signing off the permit. We can provide you with both of these forms.
Q: The house I want needs a new roof. Can I fund it through the EEM?
A: Probably not. The HUD 203(k) may be of help in funding the structural repairs and the EEM may help you get needed energy improvements. If the house has a framed roof with no attic, the EEM may be able to fund the new roof if new insulation is also called for. The HERS Rating will indicate what is needed.
Q: We are renters. How can HERS and EEMs help us?
A: They can help you become a homeowner by making it easier to qualify for a home loan.
Q: I'm not a low-income person. Can I still get an EEM?
A: Yes you can. You would need to have a rating done on the home and to work with a lender who offers the EEM.
Q: Who does the installation work after the loan is funded?
A: It is up to the lender to make sure all the improvements are done. It is their legal responsibility. Sometimes the homeowner can do it himself or herself, but usually the consumer will employ a contractor to do the work.
Q: What if we just want to do the work ourselves?
A: Usually the lender requires that the work for an Energy Efficient Mortgage be done by a licensed and bonded contractor.
Q: Why do utility companies support the EEM if it helps people save energy?
A: Energy resources are becoming scarce and expensive. Utility companies still have to meet the needs of the public, industry, business, and agriculture. It is less costly to meet the demand for energy by helping people be more efficient than to build more power plants. This way, there will still be enough energy to go around, but less pollution and less waste.
Q: Is this EEM the same program my utility company did for me a few years ago when they insulated everyone's home and asked us questions about our energy?
A: Most likely it isn't. Many people have benefited from those programs, and some homes even had free HERS Ratings done. But those programs only helped the current occupants to conserve their energy. They were not intended to help people when they are buying their homes. The EEM is a loan package which is worked out between the lender and the buyer, to give the buyer a better home.
FAQ'S provided by and copywriten by CHEERS
About Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM)
Q: What is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?
A: The Energy Efficient Mortgage is a home financing program, sponsored by the Federal Government, which allows a lender to recognize cash savings from energy efficiency. The lender can then lend additional funds to either:
- Pay for energy upgrades on a home needing them, or
- Stretch debt-to-income qualifying ratios to allow a loan applicant a larger loan on an energy efficient property.
Q: What is the benefit in using the EEM?
A: With the EEM you can qualify for a better home than was previously possible, make your money work harder than before and make the most out of your investment. You get comfort, savings and an overall better home.
Q: How does it work?
A: There are two options with the EEM:
- Get energy improvements financed through the mortgage on a home that needs some upgrades. You pay for the upgrades easily, at a low interest rate, through the mortgage.
- If you buy a home that is already efficient (it is fairly new, or it has had substantial upgrades in the past), the lender can "stretch" your debt to facilitate a larger mortgage.
Q: What kinds of loans can this be applied to?
A: The EEM can be done on government, conventional, and Jumbo financing, or for FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Jumbo and Portfolio loans. It can be done on home purchases, refinances and second deeds of trust. It can be done for homes of virtually any price, both the least expensive and the most expensive, and everything in between. It must be a residence of from one to four units.
Q: How long has the EEM been available?
A: Since 1979, but the EEM has only recently come to public attention; consumers have not demanded it because they haven't known about it. Most lenders and Realtors are not fully aware of it, and those that are have only been offering it for a short time. The lenders have not been advertising it because they mistakenly do not see a great public demand for it.
Q: Where is the EEM available?
A: Nationwide. However, not all lenders are actively offering it, so it may seem to be unavailable in some areas. Make sure you double-check with you mortgage lender.
Q: How do I go about getting an EEM?
A: Talk with CHEERS® and they will help you through the entire process.
Q: Who pays for the energy upgrades?
A: The lender initially funds the upgrades by adding money right into the mortgage. The energy savings themselves pay for the upgrades, because the total payments of mortgage and utilities combined is less than if the upgrades had not been done.
Q: My Realtor told me that I shouldn't bother with the EEM because it would only mess up my deal. Will it?
A: No. The EEM is designed to help the buyer by adding benefits on top of the regular mortgage deal. If the house qualifies for energy improvements, they are added through the mortgage, as an added feature. If no energy improvements are necessary, the lending and buying process continues as usual.
Q: Can we use the EEM if we are not buying or refinancing a home at this time?
A: No. The EEM is a mortgage tool, and must be written into the mortgage documents. However, you can use a HERS Rating in conjunction with other financing. The HERS recommendations could be included in other remodeling plans to produce a more comfortable home.
Q: I asked a lender about the EEM a while ago and they said they had never heard about it. How do I know it really exists?
A: The Energy Efficient Mortgage was created by the Federal Government about 18 years ago. It is recognized by FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. It is supported and recommended by all major utilities and state and local governments throughout the nation.
Q: Why didn't my other lender or my Realtor know about it?
A: Though the EEM has been around for some time, Realtors and lenders have only become aware of it in the past two or so years. Until HERS programs came on the scene a few years ago, there was no convenient way to get the information needed meet EEM requirements.