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There’s no doubt that now is a great time to buy a home if you are able to qualify for the all-important home loan. If I were in the market, I would try to find an existing home that is qualified as an ENERGY STAR home.
The home that I would seek out would have to be no more than a couple of years old, at most. Any older than that and the energy efficiency and green building techniques involved probably wouldn’t be up to the standards of what I’d be looking for in my new home.
An ENERGY STAR rated home would have many of the attributes of what I’d want in my next home, including some of the latest green building construction practices, green building materials and energy efficient appliances and mechanical systems (e.g., efficient HVAC units, tankless water heater). You get the idea.
A home builder must incorporate many things to qualify for the ENERGY STAR label. What is most important when it’s all said and done is that the home must be at least 20%-30% more energy efficient than the standard home. It should also be at least 15% more energy efficient than homes constructed in accordance to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). The U.S. EPA sets the guidelines for ENERGY STAR compliance and I’ll outline them below with links to the specifics of each main topic.
“Any home three stories or less can earn the ENERGY STAR label if it has been verified to meet EPA’s guidelines, including: single family, attached, and low-rise multi-family homes; manufactured homes; systems-built homes (e.g., SIP, ICF, or modular construction); log homes, concrete homes; and even existing retrofitted homes.”
How Does A Home Qualify For The ENERGY STAR label?
- You’ve got to have properly installed insulation and enough of it. This is key to comfort and low operating costs. No real surprise there.
- Energy efficient windows. Look for windows that feature multiple glazings, Low-E coating, gas-filled, warm edge spacers and improved frame materials. Yes…they’ll have the ENERGY STAR label on them.
- No holes or cracks. That goes for the duct work as well as the home itself. A tightly sealed envelope will maximize your comfort, you’ll enjoy a higher level of peace and quiet from the outside world, lower levels of dust and pollen and lower utility bills.
- It practically goes without saying that energy efficient HVAC systems that are ENERGY STAR rated are critical to your comfort, your bank account and the environment. Review the heating, cooling and mechanical ventilation systems links that point you in the right direction.
- ENERGY STAR qualified products such as high efficiency water heaters, qualified appliances and qualified lighting products reduce your monthly bottom line in a positive respect. There is also a link regarding the Energy Star Advanced Lighting Package (ALP). Basically, it states that the builder qualifies for the ALP label if at least 60% of the lighting products installed in the home are ENERGY STAR rated light fixtures, including ceiling fans. It’s just a little nod to the builder (and another selling point) that they’ve made an extra effort to make the home even more energy efficient than the already specified requirements of ENERGY STAR.
- Last, but certainly not least, the ENERGY STAR-labeled home must have third party verification. An independent Home Energy Rater will come out to the home and conduct a series of tests. “The standards for Home Energy Raters, inspection protocols and testing guidelines are maintained by Residential Energy Servies Network (RESNET).” How do I locate a certified Home Energy Rater? Find a certified Home Energy Rater
How Do Homeowners Benefit From Buying An ENERGY STAR-labeled Home?
It’s human nature that there must be some sort of benefit for us for seeking out an ENERGY STAR-labeled home before we go to the trouble of locating and purchasing one. Otherwise, what would be the point?
So what might some of those benefits be? Some of them are obvious, such as increasing our personal comfort, reducing overall energy consumption, therefore reducing our utility bills. We would also be helping the environment by purchasing a home that adheres to the latest environmental guidelines for residential construction practices (green building).
Basically, the ENERGY STAR label for homes is designed to help consumers in their decision-making process by simply looking for the label. It is their assurance that the home builder and/or residential contractor has made a conscious decision to construct an energy efficient home.
Not such a bad idea…now is it?
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I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.