What You Need to Know about ENERGY STAR Certified Homes

If you’ve been shopping for a new home to either buy or rent, you’ve likely seen different certifications and warranties used to make you feel more confident and comfortable with your choice. One that pops up a lot – and for good reason – is ENERGY STAR certification. Here’s what you need to know about ENERGY STAR certification, and why it might be a good idea to prioritize looking for an ENERGY STAR home as you continue your homebuying journey.


What’s the ENERGY STAR program?

The ENERGY STAR program is a collaboration between the EPA, DOE and the local utility companies in each region to build energy efficient homes with emphasis on better air quality and lower environmental impact than traditional construction. Following the guidelines established by ENERGY STAR helps reduce the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which cuts down on acid rain, air pollution, and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

In addition to helping protect the planet, green building practices and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly important to consumers. They see homes and buildings that have a smaller carbon footprint as a lot more desirable which makes them easier to sell. That’s why ENERGY STAR’s home certification program has grown in popularity, especially across Arizona.


What kinds of homes and buildings can be certified?

Any home that’s three stories high or less can be ENERGY STAR certified if it meets the requirements, including:

  • Single family detached homes
  • Single family attached homes
  • Low-rise multi-family homes, apartments, or condos
  • Manufactured or mobile homes
  • Systems-built homes including structural insulated panel (SIP), insulated concrete form (ICF), or modular construction
  • Log homes
  • Concrete homes

A home doesn’t have to be new construction to qualify for certification. Homes of all ages can earn ENERGY STAR certification if they are retrofitted to meet the EPA’s guidelines. This could mean adding more insulation to prevent energy loss, replacing an aging HVAC system, or whatever else is needed to bring the home up to modern efficiency standards.


How does a home qualify for certification?

The EPA’s guidelines for home certification are pretty strict. To qualify, a home has to be at least 15% more energy efficient than those that meet the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). They also have to incorporate a variety of other energy-saving features that make them between 20% to 30% more efficient than the average home. These features can include things like efficient windows and doors, plumbing fixtures, and HVAC equipment.


High Efficiency Heating and Cooling Equipment

Heating and cooling account for more than half the energy used in homes. That’s why ENERGY STAR home certification prioritizes high efficiency equipment in new home construction to keep energy usage as low as possible. Along with annual cost savings, high efficiency heating and cooling equipment can cut down on indoor humidity and noticeably improve home comfort. Plenty of home heating and cooling systems can qualify for ENERGY STAR certification if they meet certain criteria. These include:

  • Oil and Gas Furnaces – To qualify, they have to have annual fuel utilization of 83% or higher, which makes them up to 15% more efficient than regular furnaces.
  • Boilers – Eligible models include fan coil and baseboard convection units, radiant loops, and radiators that use on average of 5% less energy.
  • Heat Pumps – A good choice for moderate climates, heat pumps can reduce heating energy use by up to 50% compared to electric furnaces and baseboard heaters.
  • Tightly Sealed Construction and Ducts – Plugging holes and sealing cracks in walls, ceilings, doors, and duct systems helps keep the heat in during the winter and cool air in the summer. It can also cut down on noise, dust, allergy-causing pollen, moisture, and drafts.
  • Proper Insulation – Whether it’s insulated concrete forms, spray foam, or fiberglass insulation rolls, properly installed insulation, especially in the attic, greatly reduces energy use and costs.
  • High-Performance Windows – Unlike old fashioned single pane windows or even older double pane windows, today’s energy-efficient versions feature improved frames, protective coatings, and UV light which makes your home less costly to heat and cool all year round.


Energy Efficient Products

ENERGY STAR certification goes beyond a building’s construction and major mechanical systems. A home that’s ENERGY STAR certified will contain energy-efficient products like:

  • Washing machines and dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Ventilation fans
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Lighting fixtures

These energy-efficient appliances and home goods can help lower monthly energy consumption, saving money in the process.


Additional benefits of ENERGY STAR Certified Homes

From long term cost savings to improved comfort, ENERGY STAR certified homes have many benefits, including some that you might have never even considered. That blue ENERGY STAR label is a stamp of approval that consumers have counted on since the ENERGY STAR program began in 1992. It’s proven its worth over the years with consumers who appreciate the advantages it offers. The benefits of owning an ENERGY STAR certified home include:

1.      No worries

When you buy or rent an ENERGY STAR certified home, you don’t have to worry or verify that home’s energy-efficiency claims are true. Because the ENERGY STAR program requires third-party verification by a qualified Energy Rating Company, you can feel confident that it meets the EPA’s high standards. They work hand in hand with the builder to make sure the right construction features and equipment are installed and then conduct on-site inspections and testing before the ENERGY STAR certification is granted.

2.      A more comfortable home

Forget shivering in the winter or sweltering in the summer. Your ENERGY STAR certified home will keep out cold and heat, moisture, drafts, pollution and even noise so your family can live happier, healthier lives.

3.      Lower expenses

Slashing the cost of HVAC and water heating bills can have a big impact on a family’s budget, with savings of $200 to $400 on utility bills every single year you live in your home. New up-to-date energy efficient appliances are less likely to break down. You can even get an ENERGY STAR mortgage that can cut additional home ownership costs.

4.      Higher resale value

Research shows that energy-efficient homes often have a higher resale value than normal homes. This makes sense when you consider that being environmentally responsible is becoming more and more important to people shopping for everything from appliances to where and how they live. With more homeowners prioritizing energy-efficiency, having a home that is ENERGY STAR certified will help it stand out if you decide to put your home on the market.

5.      A feeling of pride

Buying an energy-efficient home is a great way to show your dedication to protecting the environment and living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Doing your part to help reduce greenhouse gases and slow climate change is an important contribution to the health of the planet that you can feel good about today and in the future.


Contact Chas Roberts to help improve your home’s energy efficiency

Whether you want more information on high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment or water heaters, contact Chas Roberts for the best solution. 85% of the homes we install HVAC systems in have ENERGY STAR certification, and we’re experts in all things energy efficiency.