The Energy Star Home
The Energy Star label is awarded to products that promote energy-efficiency. New homes have been included in the Energy Star Program. Energy Star products must be at least 30% more energy-efficient than current regulations demand. The same energy requirements apply to the Energy Star Home as well. Such areas on a home that are targeted for improvement include: framing, ducts, windows, insulation, and HVAC. Although, the energy star program includes appliances and electronics, when applying the program to a home, only structural improvements are taken into consideration. It is possible for a home to receive an Energy Star Label but at the same time be filled with non-energy star appliances. Older homes can be upgraded to meet energy star requirements but such improvements might not necessarily be cost effective. Making upgrades during construction is cheaper than going back and modifying existing structures. I will focus on the new energy star home as well as cost effective upgrades to existing homes. These upgrades will not qualify the house as an energy star home but they will increase efficiency.
Energy star homes use reliable and established technologies and building practices to operate significantly more efficiently than homes built to the Model Energy Code. Every new house today is built to the Model Energy Code (MEC). This code varies for different parts of the country but new houses built must meet the minimum requirements of the Model Energy Code. These technologies and practices save the owners of energy star homes money on their utility bills. They also provide a home that is more comfortable, more durable, environmentally friendly, and cheaper to own. The up front cost of an energy star home will be slightly more expensive than a traditional house of equal size but within a few years owners will start seeing a return on their investment.
New energy star homes will have a label on the breaker box stating that the home has undergone a third party evaluation. This evaluation ensures that the home either meets or exceeds energy star requirements. The Home Energy Rating System, or HERS, scoring is how a home is ranked based on energy-efficiency. The HERS works on a 100 point system, with a score of 80 for a house that meets the minimum requirements of the Model Energy Code. Each point on the HERS scale corresponds to a 5% increase in efficiency meaning that a minimum score of 86 is needed for a home to receive an energy star label.
There is another possibility for builders known as the Builder Option Packages, or BOPs. For the purpose of BOPs, the US has been divided into 19 climate zones. Each climate zone has construction specifications that include performance levels for the thermal envelope, insulation, windows, orientation, HVAC systems, and water heating efficiency. A home built to BOP specs is not rated by the HERS system but still is subject to third party...