DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes™ certified homes in California
Coming Soon to CHEERS

A DOE Zero Energy Ready Home must meet rigorous requirements that ensure energy efficiency, comfort, health and durability. Each Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) meets meticulous efficiency and performance criteria found in the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home National Program Requirements.

CHEERS Raters can inspect, test and certify a Zero Energy Ready Home through CHEERS, an EPA recognized Home Certifying Organization (coming soon).





Your California certified Zero Energy Ready Home Partner

A Zero Energy Ready Home increase energy efficiency, improve indoor air quality, and enhance your quality of life. Homes that meet this standard are at least 40-50% more energy efficient than typical new homes, and this efficiency goes beyond design. The practices and standards must be verified by a HERS Rater during and after the building process to earn the proper certification. Visit the Department of Energy to learn more.

  • ENERGY STAR® certification  the home must be certified under the ENERGY STAR qualified homes program version 3.1
  • Building envelope – Energy efficient windows, insulation, and HVAC equipment meet or exceed ENERGY STAR requirements and exceed IECC levels.
  • Duct systems – Duct distribution systems and HVAC air handler must be 100% contained inside conditioned space.
  • Water efficiency – Hot water distribution systems must be an electric, on-demand system with no more than 0.5 gallon water storage and water flow increase of ≥ 10 °F.
  • Lighting & appliances – All installed refrigerators, dishwashers, bathroom ventilation, ceiling fans and clothes washers must ENERGY STAR qualified. 80% of lighting fixtures/bulbs are ENERGY STAR certified.
  • Indoor air quality – home must be certified under EPA Indoor airPLUS.
  • Renewable ready – DOE Zero Energy Home PV-Ready checklist must be completed.
  • Independent verification Detailed insulation, air barrier, HVAC equipment, duct leakage, and exhaust air inspections are performed by HERS Raters to verify the Zero Energy Ready Home field checklist.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes with CHEERS

Why should HERS Raters provide Zero Energy Ready Home
verification services to the builders?

Third party verification is a central component of the Zero Energy Ready Home program and gives homebuyers confidence that their new homes are zero energy ready. Zero Energy Ready Homes are so self-sufficient, meaning the home produces as much, or more, electricity than it uses.

Partnering with the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program is an opportunity for HERS Raters to expand their service offerings beyond providing Title 24 inspections or individual performance tests (e.g., blower door tests). HERS Raters can become an invaluable asset to their builder clients and provide guiding value throughout the Zero Energy Ready Home process. The home needs to be ENERGY STAR certified, pass Indoor Air Plus verification and certification, and meet WaterSense criteria alongside the Zero Energy Ready Home certification.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 amended Internal Revenue Code Section 45L to provide taxpayers with a $5,000 tax credit for eligible new homes that meet applicable Zero Energy Ready Home program requirements. These new 45L rules apply to qualified energy efficient homes acquired in 2023 through 2035. DOE is coordinating with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding forthcoming IRS 45L guidance.

Why participate in ZERO ENERGY READY HOMES certification through CHEERS?

Several good reasons!

  • CHEERS automatically runs the project energy file (CF1R) through CBECC-Res to verify a 10%+ compliance margin or a delta EDR of 3+ points, which is required for ENERGY STAR.  Otherwise, the builder or energy consultant needs to verify this with a separate energy simulation. Save your builder time & money!
  • All of the required checklists are easily completed through the CHEERS Registry. They are stored and available to send to your builder at any time.
  • Zero Energy Ready Home training specific to California HERS Raters will be available soon through CHEERS!
  • CHEERS is also an approved EPA WaterSense HCO, and ENERGY STAR HCO, making CHEERS your one-stop-shop for DOE & EPA efficiency programs in California.

ZERH documentation and reporting

CHEERS provides a central location for California ZERH documentation. HERS Raters record their ENERGY STAR, Indoor airPLUS inspection and ZERH verification information within the CHEERS registry. At completion, an certification PDF package is available for download and handoff to the builder containing:

The home’s ZERH, ENERGY STAR and airPLUS certificates summarizing energy performance and building efficiency features.

Completed Rater Design Review and Rater Field checklists.

Results from the automated CBECC-Res energy run verifying the home achieves a 10%+ compliance margin or delta EDR of 3+ points.

CHEERS reports all completed ZERH certified homes to the EPA and DOE on a quarterly basis.

CHEERS is your California HCO for DOE & EPA above code compliance programs

Frequently asked questions

The zero energy ready home (ZERH) program takes high-performance housing to the next level and requires a higher level of energy efficiency than ENERGY STAR along with compliance with indoor air quality standards and increased water efficiency.

As we all learned during the pandemic, Indoor Air Quality is important. It can help keep you healthy, reduce respiratory illnesses, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. The advanced ventilation and filtration systems zero energy ready homes should help make these new homes even more attractive, as the residents benefit from this high standard.  While each home is being built “tight” to help reduce energy loss through cracks and gaps, it’s also important to make sure the homes are vented properly and air circulates well to improve indoor air quality.  Even the drywall and other building materials will be certified to make sure they do not contribute to any indoor air quality issues, and this is where Indoor airPLUS comes in

Yes. In order to meet the strict standards for a ZERH, a rater must be ENERGY STAR, Indoor airPLUS and a California CHEERS Rater. Only a select group of the top builders in the country meet the extraordinary levels of excellence and quality specified by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) guidelines to participate in the ZERH program.

On Tuesday, August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act which significantly impacted and expanded the 45L Tax Credit available for builders who build energy-efficient homes.  Originally expired at the end of 2021, 45L tax credits have been retroactively extended under the same program through the end of 2022.  Starting in 2023 and extending through 2033, the criteria will change to align with the ENERGY STAR® for Homes and Zero Energy Ready Homes programs.

Single-family homes certified under the ENERGY STAR New Homes Program receive a $2,500 tax credit.  Homes certified under the Zero Energy Ready Homes program receive $5,000.  For multifamily homes certified under the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction Program, a $500 per unit credit is available and $1,000 under the Zero Energy Ready Homes Program.