As we mentioned back in Energy Auditing Services Update – RESNET Certification article, we have completed all the steps required to become a Certified Energy Rater with RESNET. Unlike the BPI certification we received earlier in the same week, there is a lot more involved in this process than simply taking a written test & completing one field exam. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the reasons and the process, and what the next steps are.
RESNET was structured to ensure a high level of quality assurance, which is required, by the Mortgage Industry and other interested partners. With that in mind, energy raters such as me have to work through a Rating Provider, who is responsible for our quality assurance. In our case, we choose to utilize Energy Vanguard as our Authorized Rating Provider.
Step 1: Training
The first step is to find and attend an approved training course. In our case, we attended a great course at Southface that was 5 1/2 days long, which we covered in this set of articles. While this is one option, you can also attend the classes in certain authorized Community College, or with any other Authorized RESNET Training Providers. During this class you need to complete 2 field ratings, pass RESNET’s written online test (65-70% first time pass rate), and also pass a verbal test on Blower Door’s & Duct Blaster’s. For the last three item’s you automatically know if you have passed or failed right then. As for the two Field Test results – well that falls under step 2. Avg. Costs from $995 to $1995 not including travel, food or hotel
Step 2: The Wait
While this will vary by your provider, most of them will take up to a month to get back your final Field Test Rating Results. During this period, you should start looking for a Quality Assurance Provider commonly called an Accredited or Authorized Rater Provider. While you can sign up with one during this period, some will want your results before taking you on. Cost – $0, but as we all know time is money
Combining steps 1 & 2 into 8-days?
Recently, my rating provider Energy Vanguard has been approved to start offering training classes. While I have already completed my training, there are a few interesting items that might interest other professionals looking into this field. First, no matter which class you take, you will lose a week from work. With the class schedule being spread out just that little bit more, it should help allow one to still deal with the occasional issues that always seem to pop up when one is out of the office.
While I have no issues with taking tests, some people tend to freeze up. While the RESNET test is also open book, it is not known for being easy as seen above by the low pass rate. While many training providers schedule it as the last item, they are actually going to schedule it earlier in the week & allow you to take it again after class is over in case you do freeze up or have similar issues without charge.
While those are nice selling points, the biggest one in my mind is being able to walk out of there being able to go directly to step 3, 4, or 5 as all your ratings and results are known. Cost $1650
Step 3: Purchase Needed Equipment
While this may seem easy, there are numerous options available for you. The most important thing is finding an equipment supplier you trust and can help advise you of your best options based on your needs. If you are considering doing any commercial work, multifamily buildings, etc… you are better off buying the best equipment you can get now, instead of kicking yourself a little later on for trying to do it on the cheap. The minimum requirements for RESNET are a Blower Door, Grill Mask, and a Duct Testing System. There are two main companies that dominate the blower door & duct testing market – Retrotec & Minneapolis Blower Door Systems. Cost $5,000 – $20,000
Two companies worth considering:
- Energy Conservatory – 8% discount after completing class – Minneapolis Blower Door & Duct Blaster Systems
- AC Tool Supply – (My tool supplier of choice) Fully customized package deals available with discounts ranging from 5 to 15% savings – Retrotec Blower Doors & Duct Testing systems
Step 4: Find and sign with an Accredited Rater Provider
As we have mentioned before, RESNET was structured to ensure a high level of quality assurance. With that in mind, energy raters have to work through a Rating Provider, who is responsible for their rater’s quality assurance. There are quite a few things to think about and look into before just signing with just any provider. One of the biggest is the support you will receive, what they require of you, how fast will they review & approve your files, where are they located, will they be competing against you, and finally the cost. Once you have signed with a provider, you know hold a Provisional Rater Status. Costs $500 to $1500 not including travel costs for the final steps
Step 5: Provisional Rater Status
Once you have passed all your tests & signed with a Rating Provider, you will get a license key to the RemRate software & will be in a Provisional Rater Status. No matter which provider you choose, you must complete a minimum of three Provisional Ratings before the next step. That being said, just because the minimum is three provisional ratings, does not mean that is all your provider will require. Let me give you two quick examples from my final providership choices:
Southface: Southface does not like to count the first field audit done in class, as that was done as a class project. Thus, they will not count that towards the normal 5 that must be completed (2 in class, 3 out of class). They require you to complete 4 provisional ratings by yourself. One interesting item about their process is that these ratings are all done using plans that they provide you.
Energy Vanguard: While they only require 3 provisional ratings (2 on real houses, 1 from a set of plans), they also require you to perform & provide the results of 5 Blower Door Tests & Duct Blaster tests.
Step 6: The final exam
To my knowledge, this is completely dependent on your provider on how it is handled. In my case, it involved a drive to Atlanta to do one more walk through of a house, using my equipment for the blower door & duct blaster tests. Once I completed that successfully, I earned the title of Certified Energy Rater.
Step 7: The next steps
Well now that you have the title, what do you want to do? It is now up to you (hopefully with your Providers help); to get signed up or contact groups you would like to work with. In our case, I have already signed the agreement letters with ENERGY STAR®, Building America, and contacted one local architect.
If you are interested in helping out charities like we do, RESNET has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to help them design & build more Energy Efficient houses.
While it is generally in your provider’s best interest to help you get your name out there, it is your responsibility to actually do so. Most providers have a page on their site containing a listing of all their Raters. RESNET also has a list, but you are looking at paying $450 or more to simply be listed on it. IMHO, that is a very bad idea on RESNET’s part to be charging for a simple listing. Most organizations like to brag about & show how many members they have as it not only benefits them, but their members. If their members actually get business from them, they are more likely to remain members, instead of looking for that better offer. (hint hint – BPI lists you for free, as does USGBC, NARI, etc…)
Step 8: Ongoing Quality Control
At the end of each calendar year, your Rating status expires & your Rating Provider will need to renew it for you, along with there’s. The cost for this varies by your provider.
Each rating must be approved by your Rating Provider who will then allow you to print off the required documents. The cost for this varies by your provider. ($40 to $60 is typical based on numbers of ratings done in a year – the more you do, the less it will be)
Each year around your anniversary, your provider must re-rate 1% of the houses you did / at least one. For those that only rate maybe a couple of houses each year that maybe waived, but once again, that depends on your provider. This cost varies by your provider, but you are probably looking at $500 not including travel costs.