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Most homeowners are familiar with the Energy Star Label because it is on so many of our day-to-day appliances, water heaters, TVs and other household items that use electricity. Energy Star was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy in order to promote energy efficiency. What you may not know is that Energy Star program also qualifies entire homes as well.
“To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes” according to the Energy Star website.
Starting on April 1, 2011 the Energy Star Qualified Homes Program incorporated a newer, tougher standard referred to as Energy Star Version 3.0. On January 1, 2012 Version 3 will be mandatory and prior versions will no longer be accepted.
What does this mean to potential Energy Star Qualified homeowners? Essentially, the government has decided to raise the bar of Energy Star qualifications so that it remains above the basic building codes which have been raising their bar as well. While the core of the Energy Star program remains the same, under Version 3.0 the inspection lists used by new-home builders in order to get the Energy Star Qualified Label have been revised and expanded. There is increased focus on three areas: Air Flow or what they call “Thermal Enclosure Systems”, (Controlling air flow with insulation, air barriers), Thermal Flow through “HVAC System Quality Installation”, (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), and Moisture Flow through “Water Management”. Builders, HVAC contractors and other subcontractors are going to have to acquire new Energy Star training since they have to work as a team in order to successfully use and pass the Rater Checklists. I recently attended such a class sponsored by the Lake Norman Home Builders Association.
Great sources for more information:
EcoHome…Counting Down to Energy Star 3.0
Actual Energy Star Checklists For Contractors