Energy Rater Wins National Award

Terry Duszynski recently was recognized as the first certified home energy rater in the United States. The honor was bestowed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) at their national meeting. “Now there’s probably thousands of energy raters nationwide,” said Duszynski, who was surprised at the special recognition.

Back in the mid-1980s, no one was thinking about doing energy ratings on their homes. Interest rates were high and people actually were turning their house keys back into the bank.

Nevertheless, housing inspector Terry Duszynski purchased a franchise for the first home energy rating system in America.

“In 1986, the only energy rating system that was around was Energy Rated Homes of America,” Duszynski said.

Fast forward to 1990.

By then, Duszynski had conducted only two energy ratings. There wasn’t a big demand for the service.

Although contractors promoted energy-efficient construction on new homes, there was no officially recognized standard, Duszynski said.

Besides, there wasn’t much new construction at the time.

“There was no real need for energy ratings,” he said. “No houses were being built.”

But Alaska Housing was considering changing that and in fact, began requiring energy ratings in 1992. They also required code compliance inspections on new construction.

Alaska Housing asked Duszynski if the state could use his energy rating franchise. So he simply gave the franchise to the state.

Duszynski started out as a housing inspector. He may have been the first actual housing inspector in Fairbanks.

Home inspections were a new thing nationwide and not everyone supported the concept. But homeowners began hiring him.

The first house he ever inspected, in 1978, was located across the street from what is now the Fairbanks Princess Hotel. Ironically, he said, he inspected that same house again just three years ago.

Now, home inspections are routine and there are many inspectors working in town.

“Inspections started in 1977, right after the pipeline,” he explained. “There were so many sub-standard houses built during the pipeline, a group of businessmen got together and formed the Interior Alaska Dwelling Inspection Council.

“They went to the Legislature and got passed into law, if you have an inspection done by IADIC, you get a five percent reduction on homeowners insurance,” he said.

That law remains in effect today, Duszynski said.

So every year, this pioneer housing inspector would head to the Tanana Valley State Fair, with his giant IADIC sign, and seek clients to sign up for home inspections.

His home inspection business continues today.

And his connection with IADIC led to other housing-related opportunities back in those early years.

In 1980, Alaska began a home energy audit program.

The new state law resulted in lots of people wanting to work as energy auditors.

“Fairbanks had the most knowledgeable people who could be energy auditors,” Duszynski said. “Because I was working with IADIC, and they were looking for someone to train others, they hired me to train other people. That’s how I started doing that.”

Duszynski managed the energy audit program for the greater Fairbanks area in those early years and still trains homebuilders today.

Energy ratings are now part of the building code.

“You want to know what the energy number is on the house,” Duszynski said. “You, as a buyer, want to know where your house is in relation to other houses.

“Now, the minimum standard house is a five-star house.”

Today, there are more than 8,000 certified raters in all 50 states, according to Steve Baden, executive director of the RESNET.

Nationally, 146,000 homes were rated in 2014 at an average cost of $500 per rating, now representing more than $73 million annually.

“Since its inception, over 1.5 million homes have been rated,” Baden said. “New homes rated in 2014 are 37 percent more efficient than homes built in 2006 and 67 percent more efficient than homes built in the 1970s.”