The Homeowners Guide To Title 24 Compliance


Introduction To Title 24 Compliance

As a homeowner, you may not be familiar with the terms Title 24 or HERS Verifications. However, knowing these terms and their relevance to owning a home can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars each year! Why is that? Because Title 24, section 6 is entirely dedicated to the overall energy efficiency of your home.  

Title 24, Part 6 is dedicated to energy efficiency.

This simple guide will break down the history of Title 24, HERS Ratings and Testing, HERS Raters, Title 24 Energy Calculations, and how knowing this information can save you money every month on your energy costs. So if Title 24 Compliance is a brand new concept, this guide is for you! 

If Title 24, Section 6 is a familiar subject, please look through our resource section for detailed information. The information comes directly from the California Energy Commission (CEC), Energy code Ace, and other reputable sources. 

Are you are a contractor looking for information on HERS Rating or Title 24 Calculations? Please take a look through our Contractors Guide To Title 24 Compliance. 

The History of Title 24, Part 6

Over the past 40 years, the way we live in and build homes has transformed drastically. From controlling appliances with our smartphones, down to the type of concrete used in the foundation. Whether it was due to saving money on monthly bills or reducing pollution, energy efficiency has been the driving force behind the bulk of these changes. Especially in the State of California. 

history of title 24
Title 24 was created by the California Building Standards commission in 1978.

Title 24 started all the way back in 1978 and was created by the California Building Standards Commission. It was established to ensure proper building standards were being met during San Francisco’s industrial boom of the ’70s. Title 24 has expanded greatly since its inception, and now covers a total of 28 different sections. Since 2008, the California Energy Commission (CEC) updates the code standard every 3 years. 

“California’s energy code is designed to reduce wasteful and unnecessary energy consumption in newly constructed and existing buildings. The California Energy Commission updates the Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Parts 6 and 11) every three years by working with stakeholders in a public and transparent process.”

(Building Energy Efficiency Standards - Title 24 California Energy Commission

As the technology around us advances, the standards we deem acceptable are regularly challenged. This is especially true when it comes to the construction of new buildings in California. More so, how the efficiency of those buildings is measured. This is how and why the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) was created. 

What is A HERS Rating?

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) was created as a way to measure the overall energy efficiency of any residential or commercial building. It is the standard by which energy performance is rated. The HERS Rating process consists of first reviewing construction plans (the title-24 report), or determining the scope of work. The scope of work is based on a mechanical change out, utilizing the energy standards. After the first portion of the HERS is complete, the Rater will then perform an on-site inspection. This includes a visual inspection of the specific interior and exterior locations. Also, the Rater will conduct field tests on the installed mechanical systems. The purpose of this inspection is to ensure the installed equipment follows the project scope.

what is a hers rating
A HERS Rating can determine the overall efficiency of your home's energy systems.

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Program tests and rates the energy performance of a home. The California Energy Commission’s HERS Program addresses construction defects and poor equipment installation, including HVAC systems and insulation. The Energy Commission has a list of approved HERS providers who train and certify raters. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Program addresses problems in insulation, installation, and poor quality equipment installation for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

(Home Energy Rating System Program - HERS California Energy Commission

What is HERS Verification?

While the HERS verification process is very similar to a HERS rating, there are a few differences. In the state of California, a HERS verification is required for all mechanical change outs, new construction, major remodels and additions.

Under the most recent 2019 Energy Code, there are 4 main requirements (Tests) for a HERS Verification:

  • Duct Leakage
  • Cooling Coil Airflow
  • Fan Efficiency Watt Draw
  • Refrigerant Charge Verification.

In some cases, other verifications may be required. However, these 4 tests are the most commonly performed in California. The HERS Verification is either a pass or fail test outcome. Our HERS Verification service page has a detailed breakdown of the individual field tests and processes involved with Title 24 Verification.

What is HERS Testing?

what is hers testing
A new home built to current energy standards.

HERS Testing is often referred to as HERS Verification, however, that is only partially true. HERS Testing is a part of the HERS verification process, but individual tests can be performed depending on your intent. For example, if you were trying to find ways to save money each month on your energy bill, specific HERS tests would give you valuable information about your energy system. This information will provide you with a blueprint of your current energy usage and what changes or upgrades would benefit you most.

  • Duct Leakage (DB)
  • Refrigerant Charge Airflow (RCA)
  • Cooling Coil Airflow (CCA)
  • Fan Watt Draw (FWD)
  • Duct Leakage to Outside (LTO)

Duct Leakage (DB)

The duct leakage test is used to determine if there is any air loss in your duct system. The HERS Rater will seal off and pressurise the HVAC system to get an exact measurement of total air loss.

Refrigerant Charge Airflow (RCA)

The refrigerant charge airflow test will determine how efficiently the HVAC system consumes energy and conditions the building. The HERS rater will compare the current readings to the factory specs to ensure the current setup meets the manufacturer specifications.

Cooling Coil Airflow (CCA)

To determine if a cooling system design has adequate flow, a HERS Rater can perform a Cooling Coil Airflow test. This test is performed by measuring the airflow across an evaporator coil within the HVAC system.

Fan Watt Draw (FWD)

A Fan Watt Draw Test will determine the amount of energy it takes to run the fans of an HVAC system. The efficiency is calculated by dividing the total watts used by the amount of airflow in the system.

Duct Leakage to Outside (LTO)

The Duct Leakage to Outside test is used to determine if and how much leakage escapes the air barrier. This is accomplished by creating a positive pressure with the blower door while the HERS Rater performs their readings.

What is a HERS Rater?

A HERS Rater is an energy specialist who is certified by an accredited HERS Provider. These accredited providers include CHEERS and CalCERTS. To become a HERS Rater, one must pass a written test as well as a field exam. On top of being required to pass the initial tests, HERS Raters are required to stay informed of the changes to the California code and go through a recertification process approximately every 3 years. It is not uncommon to find a HERS Rater certified with other organizations like the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the National Comfort Institute (NCI).

what is a hers rater
HERS Raters are certified by accredited HERS providers and must pass a written test and field exam.

What Is A Title 24 Energy Calculation?

A Title 24 Energy Calculation is required by California before the approval of any permit needed for additions, alterations, and new construction. All project blueprints and building plans must be submitted to an energy consultant. The energy consultant will enter the building plans into a California Certified Energy Reading program and will create what will become the projects title 24 report 

title 24 energy calculation
Title 24 Energy Calculations are required by California. This is the case for all residential and commercial new construction and remodels.

What Does Title 24 Compliance Mean To You?

Your individual situation will determine what you need to do and know to be Title 24 compliant. When building a new home or performing a major renovation, the homeowner is not usually involved in the process of Title 24 Compliance. During the planning and design stage it is common-place for the architect to collaborate directly with an energy consultant (Energy Calculation). While the contractor engages directly with the HERS Rater (HERS Verification). While the homeowner may play a role in the decision-making process of which equipment is installed, they rarely play a hands-on role during Title 24 Compliance. 

title 24 compliance
Title 24 Compliance is required for any building permit in California. This is accomplished with a Title 24 Energy Calculation.

When it comes to DIY projects or small renovations, the first step is to determine if the renovation requires an energy calculation and a HERS verification. For example, changing the windows of a home would require an energy calculation, whereas changing the HVAC unit would require a HERS Verification. The full scope of work needs to be defined so that all state requirements can be identified and addressed. In most cases, you’ll be required to pass a Title 24 Energy Calculation before receiving permits, and a HERS Verification once the project is complete. It is recommended to find a company that can perform both State requirements. This can save you time and money, and allow you to make an educated and precise decision on your energy efficiency needs.