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Is Your Home Energy Star Certified for Energy-Efficiency?

by JustRentToOwn on Apr 8, 2015

As the demand for good housing rises in the United States, more home builders are seeing the value of building new homes with energy-efficient standards in mind to achieve the Energy Star rating. Most buyers are listing energy-efficiency as one of their top determining factors when choosing a home to buy, and many construction companies are picking up on that. According to the Energy Star site, homes that receive the label above generally save at least 30 percent in energy costs over a standard home. So what exactly is required for a home to get this special label?

When a new home is constructed, it undergoes a rigorous intensive evaluation involving close inspections, intensive tests, verifying that all statutes have been met. Listed below are some of the things professional inspectors evaluate:

Insulation: Properly installed non-asbestos insulating material has been packed into the walls, ceiling, and attic space of your home. Non-aluminum windows such as vinyl or wood with low-e window paneling also acts as a good insulator, and is particularly effective if the glass is double or triple paned with argon gas. Additionally, all windows and doors should be sealed with caulking around the edges to ensure that there are no air leaks to keep the temperature you want in and the one you don’t out. See the common places for air leaks below:

From CETOnline.org

Heating/Cooling Systems: Besides being Energy Star certified units themselves, furnaces and air conditioning units should have an even air distribution system via a functional HVAC network. Now that the air is sealed in, you want to be sure it is able to get to every room for an even temperature throughout the house.

Weather Durability: Proper water-sealing with heavy-duty installed membranes is important to protecting your walls, roofs, ceilings, and foundation from suffering long-term water and moisture damage. Moisture that seeps in can lead to weakened structure, wood rot, and mold/mildew build-up.

Fresh-Air Delivery System: The indoor air filtration system swaps out some of the indoor air with fresh outdoor air to cut down on allergens and indoor air pollutants. The system should also have a high-quality filter to keep outdoor allergens from coming in through the air swapping process.

All appliances and lighting fixtures are Energy Star certified: This one is a given, but having the home structure certified and not the included appliances wouldn’t fly for the inspectors. Each device should have the Energy Star label on it to signify that it too has been previously certified.

To see what goes into inspecting a home for Energy Star approval, check out the video below:

If you have an older home that was not pre-approved when it was first built, there are other improvements you can make besides those listed above to make it comparable to an Energy Star certified home:

  • Buy electronics (TV, DVD player, a stereo system, etc.) with an Energy Star label

  • Evaluate your own home using the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick and the Home Advisor to measure your energy use and where you can make improvements; alternatively, you can have a professional energy auditor evaluate your home for improvement advice  

  • Use power strips for devices

  • Seal up any leaks in your HVAC system

  • Install a door sweep in your garage to add more insulation

  • Wrap your electric water heater and hot water piping in an insulating jacket to curb heat loss

  • Switch your computer and other electronics into Sleep mode when not in use to save power

  • Let your roof shingles breathe and stay drier by allowing proper ventilation of your attic space

  • Install professional grade solar paneling to reduce your energy draw from the grid

  • Plant a tree on the sunniest side of your home (typically the western or southern side depending on your location) to shade the home during the hot months and allow sunlight in during the winter when the branches are bare

Having an Energy Star certified home not only saves you money in the long run, but also helps the environment by reducing energy consumption and slows down normal wear and tear. While many of these improvements will cost quite a bit initially, they will pay for themselves in less than ten years of savings and also subsequently raise your property’s value. If you are looking to buy a new home, remember to inquire about whether or not the home is Energy Star certified as you will not be disappointed with your choice.

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