ENERGY STAR Background
In 1992 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] introduced the ENERGY STAR program as a way for manufacturers to voluntarily conform to energy efficiency guidelines and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Computers were the first products addressed by the program, and by 1995 the program was broadened to include residential heating and cooling equipment. Read more about the history of ENERGY STAR.
About ENERGY STAR Homes
Because consumers recognize the ENERGY STAR brand and its merits, more than 2,000 builders are now partnering with the EPA as part of their ENERGY STAR program for homes. ENERGY STAR qualified new homes must be independently certified to meet the more rigorous of these two standards:
The efficiency savings are calculated based on the home's heating, cooling and hot water energy usage. Builders typically achieve the savings by a combination of methods, such as improving the building envelope, installing better windows, controlling air infiltration, installing better HVAC systems and water heaters, and making duct systems tighter. In addition to lowering energy demand, these changes often contribute to the home's quality and homeowner comfort. As participants in the ENERGY STAR program, builders are also encouraged to use energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and to integrate features that help improve indoor air quality.
Single-family and multi-family homes up to three stories high are eligible for inclusion in the ENERGY STAR program, whether they are stick-built, systems-built, modular or HUD-code manufactured homes. Existing homes are also eligible, and more information about home improvement is available online.
Before receiving the ENERGY STAR label and certificate, the new home's energy efficiency must be certified by a third party verifier. The type of verification required is dependent on the type of home being built. On-site homes are usually verified by an accredited Home Energy Ratings Systems [HERS] specialist or by a Builder Option Package [BOP] verifier. BOPs are a predefined set of construction specifications for a specific climate zone, with the nation divided into 19 different climate zones.