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Energy Star Homes
- Photo: rochester.edu
Although Massachusetts’ code has a standard for duct leakage, code officials do not test duct performance like the program. When the Energy Star program changed in 2006 and the Thermal Bypass Checklist (TBC) was added to the technical specifications, many builders struggled to meet the TBC. Success in the program comes down to training and engaging all subcontractors to conform and adhere to the technical specifications.
- 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 overall comfort. The equipment is typically more durable and requires less maintenance than standard models.
- Efficient lighting and appliances. Energy Star-qualified homes may also be equipped with Energy Star-qualified products—such as lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines—to provide additional energy savings.
- Third-party verification. Independent Home Energy Raters conduct on-site testing and inspections to verify the energy-efficiency measures. Certified raters can be found, for example, through RESNET, Residential Energy Services Network.
Benefits for Homeowners
Besides better protection against cold, heat, drafts, moisture, pollution and noise, an Energy Star-qualified home provides consistent temperatures, improved indoor air quality, and better durability. It also helps save money.
Ceci Anderson, director of marketing for Veridian Homes in Madison, WI, says that “on average, our homeowners save $813 per year on utility bills compared to a new home built to code. Over a five-year period, they save $4,065. In addition, if a homeowner replaces light bulbs with CFLs, they could save an additional $200 annually.”
Energy Star Program Evolves
The interest in Energy Star new homes is growing and the program continues to evolve. Here’s why:
- More homes qualified. More than 100,000 Energy Star qualified homes were built in 2009, bringing the total number of qualified homes in mid-May to over a million.
- More builders to choose from. More than 8,500 builders were active Energy Star partners in 2009, up from 6,500 in 2008. In addition, several national production builders committed to building 100 percent of their homes across all divisions to Energy Star guidelines.
- Home plans now can be verified. Those who prefer to build new rather than buy new will want to check out EPA’s “Designed to Earn the Energy Star” program, which provides a designation for home plans that have been checked for energy-saving features and construction practices. Once built, the home still must meet field verification requirements to earn the qualified home label. Consumers can locate an Energy Star builder partner by visiting the Energy Star website, clicking on the link for partners and searching by builders.
Guidelines being updated.
The EPA is revising guidelines. The new guidelines, called Energy Star 2011, will help EPA meet its goal of transforming the housing industry to build homes with less environmental impact and increased homeowner benefits, including greater affordability. It is expected that homes permitted on or after January 1, 2011 will be required to meet Energy Star 2011 guidelines to earn the designation
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