The builder’s view: How Touchstone Energy Home standards matter

What do a car and a home have in common? Besides being big outlays of cash, that is. According to builder John Kidd, owner of R.W. Kidd Construction and builder of Touchstone Energy Homes, measurable efficiencies are a critical element of buying decisions on both—it’s just that efficiency isn’t something we’re used to thinking about when home-building (or buying).

He’s talking about the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, which is a measure of a home’s energy efficiency regarded as the national standard.

“Until there was a gas shortage, nobody paid attention to the miles per gallon rating on a car,” Kidd said. “Now that’s the biggest number on the window sticker. I think the HERS Index is going to be just like that.”

Kidd keeps an eye on the Index as one of Indiana’s builders of Touchstone Energy Homes, which stress sealing, insulation, and equipment standards that support energy efficiency. He relies on that rating to back up his promises to his clients.

“It’s not that I think people should distrust me when I say ‘This house is energy efficient,’ but it’s much better to have an outside, independent entity come and rate my work,” Kidd said. “It gives me and the client reliable information.”

Although Kidd laments that, at present, Midwestern bankers and appraisers aren’t utilizing the HERS ratings in their assessments, he’s sure that’s where the industry is headed. It’s already there in many other states, in fact.

Because he’s a Touchstone Energy Home builder, Kidd and his homeowners receive a free HERS inspection as part of the Touchstone Energy Home program. And better for his clients, the houses he builds use about 50% less energy than standard homes to heat and cool. Although some clients may worry that a Touchstone Energy Home will cost more upfront, Kidd says those concerns are unfounded.

“When the house is properly designed, meeting the Touchstone Energy Home standards really doesn’t change the cost by much,” he said. “Plus, whatever you spend up front, you’re going to save in energy down the road.”

That’s not just talk; we back it up. When you build a Touchstone Energy Home, you get a one-year heating and cooling cost guarantee. If the cost to heat and cool your home doesn’t meet our forecast, your co-op or REMC will refund half the difference.

Just try getting that deal on a car. And when you’re ready to build, make sure you look into the Touchstone Energy Home—it’s twice as energy-efficient as a standard home, and as Kidd puts it, it’s the “way homes are going to be built” in the years to come.