Indoor Air Quality Features
ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments can help lower the exposure to indoor contaminants and asthma triggers, such as outdoor seasonal allergens, pests, molds, particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Every ENERGY STAR certified home and apartment includes features that stop air pollutants at the source and properly seal and ventilate.
Key features that can help make a home or apartment have healthier indoor air include:
- Whole-house fresh air system
- Kitchen and bath fans that work well and exhaust outside
- MERV 6+ filter, properly installed
- Combustion safety
- Complete water management system
- Air-sealed walls, ceilings, and floors
Features of ENERGY STAR Certified Homes & Apartments:
Ventilation is a key component of a healthy home. The living space in ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments is served by ventilation systems that deliver a consistent amount of fresh air into the home. This dilutes any contaminants in the home - including asthma triggers - to improve indoor air quality. These ventilation fans are tested by 3rd party energy raters to ensure they meet the required minimum airflow rates.
Cooking emits a variety of pollutants and contaminants into the air, including particulates, humidity, and for gas cooking appliances, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide. EPA recommends using vented kitchen range hoods every time an over or range is used. ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments include a range hood or kitchen exhaust fan vented directly to the outdoors, which, when used during cooking events, lowers the concentration of cooking-induced pollutants in the kitchen.
Viruses and bacteria can be present in airborne particles released by the swirl of flushing water in the toilet. Hot, humid air from baths and showers can increase indoor humidity, which may lead to mold growth. ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments provide exhaust fans that vent directly to the outdoors in each full bathroom which will help exhaust potentially contaminated air close to the source.
Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans are independently tested to verify they meet the required minimum airflow rates.
ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments are equipped with a properly installed MERV 6 or better filter in ducted heating and cooling systems, installed with a gasket to ensure air goes through it rather than around it, and located to facilitate routine maintenance. This traps dust, allergens, and other asthma triggers.
Poorly vented heating equipment can cause dangerous combustion gases to accumulate inside the home. Some of the common pollutants produced from burning natural gas or liquified petroleum gas are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulates, and sulfur dioxide. When ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments include combustion appliances such as furnaces, boilers, water heaters, and fireplaces, they must be power-vented or direct-vented; or installed in lower-risk areas such as garages or attics; or tested for proper operation.
Moisture leads to mold and other biological pollutants that can cause health problems. A comprehensive package of best building practices keeps bulk moisture draining away from the home and protects roofs, walls, and foundations from water damage. They help ensure durability and prevent moisture-related indoor air quality problems. Learn more about a complete water management system in this fact sheet (PDF, 3.5 MB).
Homes and apartments that have earned the ENERGY STAR label are required to include extensive air sealing details. Air sealing the home minimizes the pathways available for pests to enter the home and protects the home from outdoor pollutants. Walls, ceilings, and floors between attached homes and apartments must also be sealed, which lowers the amount of odor and pest transfer between units. Attached garages must also be air sealed to prevent automobile exhaust from entering the living areas. The home or apartment's air leakage must be tested and verified by an energy rater using a blower door depressurization test.