DOE says the score is equivalent to a “miles-per-gallon” rating for cars.
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If you save money on your energy bills, you’ll be able to afford a bigger mortgage: That’s the reasoning behind the Federal Housing Administration’s new plan to recognize the reduced cost of utilities in calculating an FHA-insured home purchase or refinance.

Under a new FHA and Energy Department (DOE) partnership announced on Monday, FHA will provide flexible underwriting that takes the home’s energy costs into account.

Consumers will qualify for a “slightly” higher loan amount if their home receives an official DOE Home Energy Score of 6 or higher.

The Home Energy Score is described as a low-cost, reliable method for estimating the energy use of a home on a scale of 1 (lowest rating) to 10.

Homebuyers or homeowners who want to obtain an FHA-insured purchase or refinance a mortgage for a single family home that receives a Home Energy Score of 6 or higher will be eligible to increase their income-qualifying ratio by 2 percentage points above the standard single-family FHA limit.

This means that FHA borrowers will be able to borrow slightly more when they buy or refinance a more energy-efficient home.

According to DOE, the average U.S. home will score a “5.” The official DOE-recognized Home Energy Score can only be assessed by a qualified energy assessor. (The Home Energy Score considers the home’s age, location, size, insulation — even the size of the windows and the direction they face.)