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How New Homes Earn the ENERGY STAR

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 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 certified 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. This 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.

Since the inception of the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Program, the program's requirements have evolved. Learn more about the history of the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Program.

Step 1: Builder Chooses to Partner with ENERGY STAR

Through a Partnership Agreement with EPA, a builder agrees to affix an ENERGY STAR label on homes that are independently verified to meet program guidelines and to build at least one ENERGY STAR certified home every 12 months to maintain their partnership. Through the Partnership Agreement process, the builder also selects a Home Energy Rater to work with to qualify their homes.

It is important for consumers to recognize that an ENERGY STAR builder partner does not necessarily build exclusively ENERGY STAR certified homes. Some builder partners offer ENERGY STAR in specific home models, subdivisions or developments, or as an upgrade option. However, there are also many builders that have made a commitment to building 100% ENERGY STAR certified homes across their entire operation and developers who require all ENERGY STAR construction in their developments. To find participating builder partners in your area, visit the ENERGY STAR Partner Locator.

Builder Works with the Rater to Select Appropriate EnergyStep 2: Builder Works with the Rater to Select Appropriate Energy–Efficient Home Features

The builder submits their architectural plans to their Home Energy Rater for review and analysis. The Rater looks for key information on the plans to help the builder choose the best combination of energy–efficient features to ensure that the home will earn the ENERGY STAR label when constructed. Some Raters rely on a prescriptive package of energy improvements developed by EPA, while other develop a customized approach for each home using specialized home energy modeling software. Learn more about the different approaches to selecting features for ENERGY STAR certified homes.

Step 3: Builder Constructs Home and Rater Verifies Features and Performance.

With the energy–efficient features selected, the builder then proceeds with construction of the home. Throughout the construction process, the Rater performs a number of inspections and diagnostic tests to verify the proper installation of the selected energy–efficient features and overall energy performance of the home. Learn more about the home analysis and inspection process.

Special note on the Sampling Protocol: Builders who have demonstrated an ability to consistently meet the ENERGY STAR guidelines may be eligible to have their homes verified using RESNET's Sampling Protocol. Under that protocol, groups of homes that meet certain eligibility criteria can be certified based on tests and inspections performed on a sample of the homes. For more information, see Chapter 6 of the Mortgage Industry National Home Rating Standards PDF Exit ENERGY STAR.

ENERGY STAR labelStep 4: Rater Qualifies the Home as ENERGY STAR and Issues an ENERGY STAR Label

After the Rater completes the final inspection and determines that all requirements have been met, the Rater will provide the builder with an ENERGY STAR label, which is placed on the circuit breaker box of the home. This label provides the homeowner with documentation that the home is ENERGY STAR certified, and includes the home address, builder name, Rater name, and date verified. Builders will also provide a paper certificate or copy of the Home Energy Rating report to homeowners.