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To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), based on extensive experience with the nation's homebuilding industry including builders, Home Energy Raters, and building scientists. ENERGY STAR certified homes are at least 10% more energy efficient than homes built to code and achieve a 20% improvement on average. Homes achieve this level of performance through a complete package of building science measures including:

  • A Complete Thermal Enclosure System — Comprehensive air sealing, properly installed insulation, and high-performance windows work together to enhance comfort, improve durability, reduce maintenance costs, and lower monthly utility bills.
  • A Complete Heating and Cooling System — High-efficiency systems that are engineered and installed to deliver more comfort, better moisture control, improved indoor air quality, and quieter operation.
  • A Complete Water Management System — A comprehensive package of best building practices and materials protects roofs, walls and foundations from water damage, provides added protection, and reduces the risk of indoor air quality problems.
  • Energy-Efficient Lighting and Appliances — ENERGY STAR qualified lighting, appliances, and fans are commonly installed throughout ENERGY STAR certified homes, helping to reduce monthly utility bills, while providing high-quality performance.

To ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines, third−party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater (or equivalent) is required. The rater works closely with the builder throughout the construction process to help determine the needed energy−saving equipment and construction techniques and conduct required on−site diagnostic testing and inspections to document that the home is eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR label. Learn more about the process of how a new home earns the ENERGY STAR.

Since the inception of the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Program in 1995, the program's requirements have continued to evolve in response to increased rigor in mandated code requirements and more efficient standard builder practices to ensure that homes that earn the label continue to represent a meaningful improvement over non-labeled homes. As codes and standard practices continued to increase across the country, EPA released a third-generation of guidelines ("ENERGY STAR Version 3") in 2010 that largely became mandatory for homes permitted after January 1, 2012. Please visit the transition timeline for more information.

By implementing an ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program, utility sponsors can leverage a powerful brand advantage, along with fully-developed technical specifications and associated training and technical support available from EPA at no cost. Specific benefits to utilities of using this program platform include:

More detailed verification of efficiency measures: The inspection checklists allow for a high level of verification that provide sponsors with greater assurance that efficiency measures are being properly installed and that ENERGY STAR certified homes meet performance and quality expectations.

  • The Thermal Enclosure checklist helps ensure that there are no thermal defects.
  • The HVAC Quality Installation checklists helps ensure that HVAC systems are installed using industry best practices and perform at rated efficiencies.
  • The Water Management builder checklist helps ensure roofs, walls, and foundations are fully protected from water intrusion.

Greater savings per home: ENERGY STAR certified homes are approximately 20% more efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Further, the size adjustment factor ensures that larger homes include additional energy efficiency measures to account for their added size.

More definitive savings: Demand and peak savings will be much more reliable with every certified home due to greater rigor of the Reference Design and mandatory checklists. As a result, there will be less opportunity for builders to omit important energy efficiency improvements, and utilities can more confidently quantify the specific savings associated with ENERGY STAR certified homes.

Leverage nationally recognized ENERGY STAR name: ENERGY STAR makes it easy for homebuyers to select energy-efficient homes with its high consumer brand recognition. Efficiency programs based on ENERGY STAR benefit from this level of awareness and builder partners also benefit from being able to leverage ENERGY STAR for effective differentiation from the resale market.

Interested in expanding your program to include mid and high rise multifamily buildings?

Learn more about the ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise Program