How New Homes Earn the ENERGY STAR:
A home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes. Homes achieve this level of performance through a combination of energy–efficient improvements, including,
- Effective Insulation Systems
- High–Performance Windows
- Tight Construction and Ducts
- Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
- ENERGY STAR Qualified Lighting and Appliances
To ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines, third–party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater (or equivalent) is required. This Rater works closely with the builder throughout the construction process to help determine the needed energy–saving equipment and construction techniques and conduct required on–site diagnostic testing and inspections to document that the home is eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR label.
Since the inception of the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program, the program’s requirements have evolved.
Step 1: Builder Chooses to Partner with ENERGY STAR
Through a Partnership Agreement with EPA, a builder agrees affix an ENERGY STAR label on homes that are independently verified to meet program guidelines and to build at least one ENERGY STAR qualified home every 12 months to maintain their partnership. Through the Partnership Agreement process, the builder also selects a Home Energy Rater to work with to qualify their homes.
It is important for consumers to recognize that an ENERGY STAR builder partner does not necessarily build exclusively ENERGY STAR qualified homes. Some builder partners offer ENERGY STAR in specific home models, subdivisions or developments, or as an upgrade option. However, there are also many builders that have made a commitment to building 100% ENERGY STAR qualified homes across their entire operation and developers who require all ENERGY STAR construction in their developments.
Step 2: Builder Works with the Rater to Select Appropriate Energy–Efficient Home Features
The builder submits their architectural plans to their Home Energy Rater for review and analysis. The Rater looks for key information on the plans to help the builder choose the best combination of energy–efficient features to ensure that the home will earn the ENERGY STAR label when constructed. Some Raters rely on a prescriptive package of energy improvements developed by EPA, while other develop a customized approach for each home using specialized home energy modeling software.
Step 3: Builder Constructs Home and Rater Verifies Features and Performance.
With the energy–efficient features selected, the builder then proceeds with construction of the home. Throughout the construction process, the Rater performs a number of inspections and diagnostic tests to verify the proper installation of the selected energy–efficient features and overall energy performance of the home.
Step 4: Rater Qualifies the Home as ENERGY STAR and Issues an ENERGY STAR Label
After the Rater completes the final inspection and determines that all requirements have been met, the Rater will provide the builder with an ENERGY STAR label, which is placed on the circuit breaker box of the home. This label provides the homeowner with documentation that the home is ENERGY STAR qualified, and includes the home address, builder name, Rater name, and date verified. Some builders may also provide a paper certificate or copy of the Home Energy Rating report.