Starting with the Austrian OIB-directive-6 the calculated heating demand of the energy-pass is compared to the Californian approach of energy-efficient homes. The focus is put on the building envelope. The legislative background in both countries is discussed. Basis of pointing out the main differences of the Austrian energy-pass and the Californian HERS rating are 4 examples in Austria (Traunkirchen, Baden, Altenfelden and Schwarzenberg) and one example in California (San Francisco). Both systems (of California and Austria) are not exchangeable to each other without adapting certain parameters (e.g. reference model that gives the number of the Austrian rating. It is necessary to adapt it otherwise insufficient improvements of the insulation are done.) California divides the country in several climatic zones to take this into account California has 2 different approaches (simple U-values) and HERS rating. Nevertheless we all have to improve our home?s efficiency. HERS raters give a good chance to check the whole house - from the building envelope to the individual electrical appliances of the household. In Austria (Energieberater) do a similar job, but the energy-pass can also be done by different professionals and does not include household devices. Heating costs of improved buildings can go down from about 7% of the annual household income to 2% without changing the heating system. Better results can be received, if renewable energy like solar thermal of biomass is used instead.