New Homes

Why ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Are Built Better from the Ground Up

By Brian Ng

Being an EPA employee working for the ENERGY STAR program, it’s natural to find myself thinking of ways to save more energy, especially at home. There’s plenty I do to consume less energy – everything from turning off lights and using a programmable thermostat, to sealing and insulating in my attic. But there are things that I just can’t do to my existing home that I wish I could do to really improve my home’s comfort and efficiency, things like sealing and insulating the air ducts behind my walls and in the floors, installing a moisture barrier under the foundation, and insulating the brick and block walls of my 1940’s colonial. For those in the market for a new home, you’re in luck! New homes that earn the blue ENERGY STAR label include all these comfort and energy-saving details, and more.

When a home earns the ENERGY STAR label, it means that it can be up to 30 percent more efficient than a typical new home. All ENERGY STAR certified homes are constructed with:

  • A complete Thermal Enclosure System to deliver comfort and low utility bills;
  • An efficient Heating, Ventilating, and Cooling (HVAC) System designed and installed for optimal performance, comfort, and lower bills; and
  • A comprehensive Water Management System to protect roofs, walls, and foundations from moisture damage.

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These are features that just can’t be easily installed in most homes after they’ve been built, and surprisingly are not built into many new homes. These features are inspected by a third party using a set of quality assurance checklists that can dramatically reduce the chance that critical details are overlooked and that can greatly improve the efficiency, comfort, durability, and quality of homes that earn the label.

To find home builders in your area that are constructing ENERGY STAR certified homes, you can visit www.energystar.gov/partnerlocator. To learn more about the features and benefits of these homes visit www.energystar.gov/newhomes.

Every ENERGY STAR certified new home is built better from the ground up to use energy more efficiently, which means lower utility bills for you and less of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. This makes a big difference for our environment. In fact, one ENERGY STAR certified home contributes 3,700 lbs. less greenhouse gases than a typical home, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gases that are absorbed by planting 43 trees. Since EPA began labeling new homes in 1995, American homeowners have saved over $4 billion on their energy bills and reduced GHG emissions by more than 46 billion pounds.

ENERGY STAR is the simple choice for energy efficiency. Join the millions already making a difference at energystar.gov.

Mr. Brian Ng is the communications manager for ENERGY STAR’s Residential Programs. Mr. Ng has been with the U.S. EPA for 17 years supporting a wide range of initiatives related to the protection of human health and the environment, including the improvement of energy efficiency in new and existing low-income housing.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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1 Million ENERGY STAR Homes And Counting

I have worked with the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program for nearly 10 years – first as the program’s Partner Support Coordinator and now as its Communications Coordinator. When I first came aboard in 2000, less than 14,000 ENERGY STAR homes had been built since the program first kicked-off in 1995. Today, I am truly amazed that we have reached the milestone of 1 million ENERGY STAR Homes built. I could not be more proud!

Consider some of these numbers:

  • This year, families living in the 1 million ENERGY STAR homes will save more than $270 million on their utility bills, while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 370,000 vehicles.
  • There are more than 6,500 builders across the nation currently building homes that earn the ENERGY STAR label. These range from the largest national homebuilders to small custom builders to builders of manufactured and affordable homes.
  • Nearly 17 percent of all single-family homes built nationally last year earned the ENERGY STAR label, up from 12 percent in 2007. And market share for ENERGY STAR is 20 percent or greater in 15 states.

To earn the ENERGY STAR label, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by EPA. ENERGY STAR homes are at least 15% more efficient than those built to the 2004 Energy Code, and include additional energy-saving features that make them 20-30% more energy efficient than typical new homes. They achieve these energy savings through established, reliable building technologies and a whole home approach to home building, including: effective insulation systems, high-performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and high-efficiency lighting and appliances. An independent Home Energy Rater conducts onsite testing and inspections to verify that the home’s performance meets ENERGY STAR requirements.

Our success would not have been possible without the tremendous level of support that our program has received from the organizations that have partnered with ENERGY STAR. From the homebuilders who put our label on their homes, to the Home Energy Raters who do the verification needed for homes to earn the label, to the utilities and other organizations that have sponsored ENERGY STAR in their markets through incentives, training, and consumer education and outreach.

It is truly gratifying to know that by looking for the ENERGY STAR, home buyers can get a home that provides greater comfort, saves energy and money, and helps them join in the fight against global warming.

I wonder how long it will take us to reach the 2 million mark?

About the author: Jonathan Passe is the Communications Coordinator for ENERGY STAR Residential Programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  In this role, he oversees national and local communication and outreach efforts to increase consumer awareness of ENERGY STAR in both the new home and home improvement markets.  He has supported EPA voluntary programs, as an Agency employee and as a consultant, for nearly 20 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.