Shopping for a New ENERGY STAR ® Home
ENERGY STAR homes earn the stamp of approval from the Environmental Protection Agency as the most efficient homes you can buy. Homes that have the ENERGY STAR rating will have a certificate posted near the main electrical box of the home.
The ENERGY STAR rating means that the home builder has taken extraordinary steps to design and build a structure among the most efficient new homes. ENERGY STAR homes are inspected by trained and qualified home inspectors, who verify that the home has the characteristics normally associated with low energy costs.
Energy ratings are an important indicator and may have a strong positive effect on property value, but it’s also important to verify performance through testing.
The airtightness of the building shell and ducts are important and measurable performance indicators. If no measurements of the home’s airtightness are performed it is anyone’s guess if the home is too tight or too loose for optimal energy efficiency and good indoor air quality. Duct leakage, for example, can plague even the most expensive new homes. Unless the installer followed rigid standards and/or verified performance with a duct tester, the ducts may be leaky even with an energy-efficient home rating and a handsome certificate.
When you are ready to shop for an ENERGY STAR home, look for the following specifications.
The house was tested for airtightness with a blower-door.
The ducts were tested for airtightness with a blower-door or duct-blower.
The heating system bears the ENERGY STAR label.
The air conditioning system bears a separate ENERGY STAR label on the outdoor compressor unit.
The windows and all major kitchen and laundry appliances bear the ENERGY STAR label.
The home has a central ventilation system, or at least high-efficiency, quiet exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.