How New Homes Earn the ENERGY STAR
To earn the Energy Star, a home must meet strict guidelines set out by the U.S. EPA. In meeting these guidelines, a home will become 20-30% more efficient than standard homes built to code. A series of energy efficient improvements that could be included, but not limited to, in the home design are:
- Effective Insulation Systems - Properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, reduced energy use, and increased comfort.
- High Performance Windows - Energy-efficient windows employ advanced technologies, such as protective coatings and improved frames, to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer. These windows also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can discolor carpets and furnishings.
- Tight Construction and Ducts - Sealing holes and cracks in the home's "envelope" and in heating and cooling duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility and maintenance.
- Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment - In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of the home. When properly installed into a tightly sealed home, this equipment won't have to work so hard to heat and cool the home.
- ENERGY STAR Qualified Lighting and Appliances - ENERGY STAR qualified homes may also be equipped with ENERGY STAR qualified products — lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines
To ensure that the home meets the guidelines, a home energy rater works closely with the builder throughout the project. This third-party verification system is a requirement to earn the rating, as the Rater conducts on-site diagnostic testing to document that the home is eligible.
Step 1: Builder Chooses to Partner with ENERGY STAR
In doing so the builder enters a partnership agreement with the EPA and ENERGY STAR. In order to keep this agreement a builder must ere3ct at least one ENERGY STAR rated home every 12 months. As well, the builder independently selects a Home Energy Rater to work with and qualify the homes.
Step 2: Builder and Rater Select Appropriate Energy-Efficient Home Features
Some Raters have different approaches to the selection process of the home features. After the builder submits the architectural plans to the Rater, some Raters follow the EPA prescriptive package of features, where as some develop a customized approach using specialized modeling software.
Step 3: Building of the Home and Verification of Features and Performance
The Rater performs a number of inspections and diagnostic tests throughout the building process. This is done so to ensure proper installation and assess overall energy performance of each selected feature.
Step 4: Home Qualifies as ENERGY STAR and is Issued ENERGY STAR label
A final inspection is completed in order to determine that all requirements have been met. If so the Rater issues an ENERGY STAR label which is placed on the circuit breaker of the house. This label provides the home owner with documentation that the home is qualified.
With 20-30% higher energy efficiency in your home you will receive real benefits. Your monthly costs are lowered due to increased efficiency and you will lower your carbon footprint. Also the government has provided a rebate program for energy efficient intiatives. As well, with tight construction you allow for improved quality of living including overall comfort and air quality throughout the house.
Excerpts from: ENERGY STAR website