Frequently Asked Questions

updated 12/07/07

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What does it take to become a Home Energy Rater?

The first step in becoming a Home Energy Rater is passing the RESNET National Rater Exam. Most raters attend a RESNET-accredited training class. However, you can challenge the exam if you believe you have the requisite skills or experience. KBSI conducts rater training classes monthly. See our schedule page for the current schedule. Once you have passed the exam, you need to demonstrate your rating skills by completing several probationary audits. Finally, you need to affiliate with an accredited Rating Provider.

What is the difference between an energy audit and a rating?

An energy rating is an energy audit that is done in a prescribed and consistent way. An energy rating will produce nearly identical results regardless of who does the analysis. RESNET has established a standard that defines the qualifications and skills the rater must have, what features and energy uses in the house are analyzed, and what software can be used. Consistency is required because ratings can be used to help secure an energy efficient mortgage (EEM), an Energy Star label, or the IRS builder tax credit.

What is a Rating Provider?

In order to provide consistent and quality ratings, RESNET has implemented a mandatory quality assurance program for all raters. The Rating Provider is responsible for implementing RESNET's quality assurance requirements. Raters submit ratings to their Provider for review and archiving. The provider performs an in-office review of a sample of submitted ratings and an in-field review of others. The Provider also maintains a record of each audit submitted by the Rater. RESNET reviews the records of Providers to assure the quality control requirements are being followed. RESNET maintains a list of accredited providers.

Is Kansas Building Science Institute a Rating Provider?

Yes. KBSI is a RESNET-accredited Rating Provider operating under the name Energy and Environmental Ratings Alliance (EERA).

After successful completion of the RESNET National Rater Exam, KBSI's course participants may elect to submit their probationary audits to EERA for review. The training fee includes this service. Upon successful completion of the probationary audits, membership in EERA is generally offered to the rater. KBSI's course participants, however, are not required to use EERA as their provider.

What does the Provider charge for these services?

Fee structures are not set by RESNET and will vary depending on the Provider. The annual fee for EERA Membership is $300. There is a $55 per rating fee for the quality assurance review and archiving. The annual fee includes a sub-license to use REM/Rate and access to KBSI technical staff for assistance.

Can my company become a Rating Provider?

Yes.  One person from your company must pass the RESNET quality assurance designee exam demonstrating proficiency in home energy ratings and the RESNET quality assurance requirements.  There are other requirements as well.  Details for becoming a Rating Provider can be found here.

Do all ratings have to be archived?

If it is an official rating, it must be archived.  Official ratings include when the client wants

1)      an index of the home’s performance,

2)      Energy Star™ certification, or

3)      to qualify for the IRS builder tax credits. 

Ratings done for the purpose of identifying cost-effective improvements to new or existing homes do not have to be archived.  There is no fee for the use of REM/Rate on non-archived ratings. 

What equipment is required?

The KBSI training manual provides a list of recommended equipment.  At a minimum, Raters will need to have a blower door and Duct Blaster.  Blower doors are used to measure the air-tightness of the home and assist the rater in identifying the location of the major leaks.  A Duct Blaster is used to measure the tightness of duct systems.  The Energy Conservatory is a major supplier of building pressure diagnostic equipment.  There are, of course, other manufacturers.  Visit The Energy Conservatory’s web site for more details.  The approximate cost for a blower door and Duct Blaster including several important accessories is $5,000. The Energy Conservatory offers a five percent discount to KBSI students. 

Do I have to join RESNET?

No.  RESNET membership, however, offers several key advantages. 

  • Listing on RESNET’s web site
  • Free subscription to Home Energy Magazine
  • Discount to the annual RESNET Building Performance Conference
  • Subscription to the RESNET news feature “RESNET Notes”
  • Eligibility for affordable business and professional liability insurance
  • Eligibility for a special RESNET Rater Member Seal of Quality

Membership details can be found here.

What is on the RESNET exam?

RESNET began the use of a standardized national rater exam in April 2005. The exam covers 30 topical areas from basic building science and building diagnostic procedures to specific RESNET requirements on quality assurance and ethics. More information on the exam categories is available from the RESNET website.

The exam is administered online. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions. A score of 80 percent is required to pass.

When will I know my exam results?

You can find out your score as soon as you submit your exam for grading. In other words, you will know immediately after you complete the exam.

What if I don't pass the exam?

The exam can be taken again either at an accredited Rater Trainer's location or at any testing center that has can provide broadband web access and meet the proctoring requirements. For example, the proctor is required to verify the identify of the student and assure the student is not assisted by anyone else during the exam.

KBSI charges $50 to set up a proctored exam. This is in addition to RESNET's charge of $50 for the exam itself. The student is responsible for any testing center fees.

The student is responsible for locating a testing center and arranging for a suitable time to take the exam. This form must be completed and returned to KBSI several days before the exam is scheduled.

Can I purchase REM/Rate?

No.  REM/Rate can only be leased from an accredited Rating Provider.  Architectural Energy Corporation, the developer of REM/Rate, offers a companion program called REM/Design.  It has the same functional capabilities of REM/Rate except no rating index is generated and Energy Star and IRS builder tax credit reports cannot be prepared.  Visit Architectural Energy Corporation's web site for more information. 

Do already-certified raters have to take the RESNET National Rater Exam?

Yes. Existing raters have until January 2008 to pass the national exam.  Until that date, they can continue to operate as Home Energy Raters.  In most cases, they will have the core knowledge to do well on the exam.  However, they should spend time refreshing their skills and research the changes to the rating industry.  KBSI offers two courses to aid existing raters prepare for the exam.  The first, Rater Skills Update, is designed specifically to address the recent changes in the rating industry.  The second, Rater Recertification, will help raters refresh core skills and knowledge. 

What is an Energy Star home?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a labeling program to help consumers identify energy-efficient appliances, lights, and homes.  An Energy Star home is projected to consume at least 15 percent less energy than a home otherwise design and built to modern energy codes.  EPA places other requirements on the home including a pre-sheetrock inspection to verify certain energy performance features of the home that are hidden when the home is complete. Only certified home energy raters can certify that a home meets Energy Star criteria. 

What are the IRS builder tax credits?

The IRS offers a $2,000 tax credit to builders of homes that are projected to consume 50 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a home built to comply with the IECC 2004.  The IRS has stipulated that only certified home energy raters (or equivalent) using IRS approved software can certify a home for the tax credit.

What is KBSI's cancellation policy?

Because KBSI's classes often fill to capacity, KBSI has a seven-day cancellation policy. There is no refund for cancellations received less than seven days prior to the start of an event. For cancellations received before this, there is a $150 cancellation fee.