An Energy Star-certified home is a type of home that is designed to be more energy efficient than standard homes. To be certified, a home must meet certain requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this article, we’ll explore what it takes to build an Energy Star-certified home and the value of the Energy Star rating.
Requirements for Building an Energy Star Certified Home
To be certified as an Energy Star home, a home must meet a set of requirements that are designed to improve its energy efficiency. These requirements are tested by an independant 3rd party auditor. The requirements can vary based on the climate zone in which the home is located, but some common requirements include:
1. Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors
Energy Star certified homes must have windows and doors that are designed to be energy efficient. This can include features such as low-e coatings, which help to reduce heat transfer, and high-quality weather stripping, which helps to prevent air leaks.
2. Energy-Efficient Design and Framing
Energy Star certified homes must be designed and framed to reduce wood use and allow insulation that traditionally framed homes do not allow for. This includes things like “California Corners” and spaces left in headers to place insulation. Wood studs are actually poor insulators and act as a thermal bridge into the home. By reducing the number of studs and increasing the thickness of them we achieve a more insulated home. Typically this looks like using 2×6 studs placed 24″ on center vs the traditional 2×4 studs placed 16″ on center.
3. Proper Insulation
An Energy Star certified home must have proper insulation in the walls, ceilings, and floors. This helps to prevent heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, which can improve the home’s energy efficiency.
4. High-Efficiency Heating and Cooling Systems
An Energy Star certified home must have a high-efficiency heating and cooling system that is designed to use less energy than standard systems. This can include features such as programmable thermostats, which can help to reduce energy usage when the home is unoccupied.
5. Energy-Efficient Lighting and Appliances
An Energy Star certified home must have energy-efficient lighting and appliances, such as Energy Star certified refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. These appliances are designed to use less energy than standard appliances, which can help to reduce energy usage and save homeowners money on their utility bills.
6. Blower Door Testing
An Energy Star Certified home must pass the blower door test. During this test the independent energy auditor will place a large fan in an open doorway and use fabric to seal around the fan. The auditor will then turn the fan creating negative pressure in the home while sensors calculate how much air the fan is removing from the home. This indicates how much air is allowed to enter the home through any gaps and leaks. The house is scored using ACH50 which stands for air changes per hour at 50 pascals (Pa). This number indicates howtight a home seals.
ACH50 less than 5 equals a tight house
ACH50 between 5-10 moderate sealing house
ACH50 greater than 10 is a leaky house
7. No Atmospheric Venting Furnace or Water Heater Allowed
To become Energy Star Certified a house can no longer utilize atmospheric venting furnaces or water heaters. No matter if the house receives a perfect score on all other metrics, a single mistake here will keep certification out of reach.
This is a picture of an atmospheric venting water heater. Notice the exhaust gap. Also this type of unit will draw air from the atmosphere or room in which it is placed. A direct vent appliance will utilize PVC to bring fresh air from outside of the home to feed the combustion inside the appliance.
Value of an Energy Star Certification
1. Energy Savings
One of the primary benefits of an Energy Star certified home is its energy efficiency. By meeting the Energy Star requirements, a home can use up to 30% less energy than standard homes. This can result in significant energy savings for homeowners, which can help to reduce their utility bills and improve their overall financial well-being.
2. Environmental Benefits
Using less energy can also have environmental benefits. By reducing energy usage, homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint and help to combat climate change. Additionally, by using less energy, homeowners can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which can help to protect natural resources.
3. Increase Home Value
An Energy Star certification can also increase the value of a home. Buyers are often willing to pay more for homes that are designed to be energy efficient, as they can provide significant long-term savings on utility bills. Additionally, an Energy Star certification can help to differentiate a home from other homes on the market, which can help to attract buyers and increase its value.
Building an Energy Star certified home requires meeting certain requirements for energy efficiency. By doing so, homeowners can enjoy significant energy savings, environmental benefits, and improved comfort. Additionally, an Energy Star certification can increase the value of a home and help to attract buyers. If you’re building a new home, consider the value of building an Energy Star certified home.