Energy Star homes save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually on their energy bills and help to protect the environment.
By Ronnie Citron-Fink
Are you in the market for a new home? If you are, you are not alone. Millions of new homes are built every year. The National Association of Home Builders estimates, 1.8 million homes are constructed each year. How will all of the materials needed to build and sustain these new homes accommodate our dwindling and limited natural resources?
Why build energy efficient sustainable homes?
First, we have a moral obligation to make conscious ecological decisions about construction and consumption. Designing sustainable homes will protect the environment for future generations by changing to more energy efficient practices today. Along with securing a safe future, being more efficient and living lighter on the land helps reserve life-supporting systems – plant life and animals.
What is Energy Star?
Energy Star is a voluntary partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and more than 9,000 organizations, including more than 2,500 of the nation’s home builders. In essence, the Energy Star is the EPA government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. It identifies new homes, commercial buildings and more than 40 types of products that are energy efficient.
Products that can earn the Energy Star rating include appliances, lighting, home office equipment, consumer electronics, and heating and cooling equipment.
What are Energy Star qualified homes?
Homes that earn the Energy Star rating are significantly more efficient than standard homes. The Energy Star Homes that adhere to the new guidelines (below) make them at least 20% more efficient. An Energy Star home can save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually on their energy bills and help to protect the environment.
Key elements of the new guidelines for Energy Star qualified homes include:
A Complete Thermal Enclosure System: Comprehensive air sealing, properly insulated assemblies and high-performance windows enhance comfort, improve durability and reduce utility bills.
Quality Installed Complete Heating and Cooling Systems: High-efficiency heating and cooling systems engineered to deliver more comfort, moisture control and quiet operation, and equipped with fresh-air ventilation to improve air quality.
A Complete Water Management System: Because Energy Star homes offer a tightly sealed and insulated building envelope, a comprehensive package of flashing, moisture barriers, and heavy-duty membrane details is critical to help keep water from roofs, walls, and foundations for improved durability and indoor air quality.
Efficient Lighting and Appliances: Look for Energy Star qualified lighting, appliances and fans that can help to further reduce monthly utility bills and provide high-quality performance.
Third-Party Verification: Energy Star qualified homes require verification by independent Home Energy Raters who conduct a comprehensive series of detailed inspections and use specialized diagnostic equipment to test system performance