Is Energy Star Certification Worth It For Your Home?

Photo by todd kent on Unsplash

You’ve heard of Energy Star, and you’ve even seen their logos on appliances, but that’s as far as your knowledge goes. What if we told you that an entire home can be Energy Star certified?  Before you can decide whether to pursue Energy Star certification for your home, you need more info. What is Energy Star certification, and is it worth it?

Energy Star certification means your home is energy efficient. The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA sets the standards that a building must meet to earn the certification. By getting Energy Star certified, you’ll not only increase your home’s resale value, you’ll lower your energy bills.

Do you still have questions about Energy Star? This is part one of a series that will examine Energy Star certification in detail. Make sure you keep reading, as there’s lots of useful information ahead!

What Is Energy Star Certification?

Let’s start by talking more about what it means to be Energy Star certified.

First, a bit on Energy Star. This is an EPA-owned program that’s been around since the early 1990s. The purpose of the Energy Star program is to increase energy efficiency throughout the United States.

energy star logo

Energy Star certifies commercial buildings and homes as well as items and appliances. The requirements vary for single-family, multifamily, manufactured, and rehabbed homes.

The EPA sets the rules for which homes earn certification and which don’t. A home or building is ranked on an efficiency scale between 1 and 100. A score of 75 or higher is required for certification.

The score translates to a comparison of how much more energy-efficient your home is than other homes throughout the country.

Even once you get a passing score and are Energy Star certified, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stay that way forever. The certification lasts for a year, then you’re eligible for another inspection. If your home were deemed less energy-efficient than the year prior, you’d lose your certification.

A Registered Architect and Professional Engineer will review the application for certification. These are third-party professionals not associated with Energy Star or the EPA.

Requirements For Energy Star Certified Homes

If you’re interested in pursuing Energy Star certification for a new home, which criteria must the property meet to be eligible? Let’s take a closer look now.

Photo of a beige frame house with white porch rails and a green grass lawn with an energy star certification logo

Single-Family Homes

Per this page on their website, Energy Star determines the requirements for certification of single-family homes based on a program Revision and Version; these vary throughout the U.S. For most parts of the country, the program version is National Version 3.

Here are the full criteria for National Version 3. But we’ll boil that document down to a few relevant points:

  • Must have Energy Star modeled ceiling fans, dishwashers, and refrigerators
  • Light bulbs must be in a Qualified Light Fixture Location as established by the Residential Energy Services Network or RESNET
  • Supply ducts in unconditioned attics must have R-8 insulation and other ducts must have R-6 insulation

As you can see if you click through to the EPA link above, just because a state follows National Version 3 certification doesn’t mean the Revision is the same. Please look at the requirements for your state.

Multifamily Homes

Homes with more than one family are subject to different requirements to be Energy Star certified. According to Energy Star, a lot of states follow National Version 1 programs for multifamily dwellings, but again, the Revision can vary.

Manufactured Homes

If your home was manufactured between January 1st, 2006 and May 31st, 2020, then your certification rules are National Version 1. For homes built on or after June 1st, 2020, you’d follow National Version 2 rules.

Per the National Version 2 rules, here are some features your manufactured home must have:

  • Duct installation for multi-section homes where crossover ducts don’t touch the ground; R-8 insulation is required if the ducts are in an unconditioned space
  • Marriage line seals for multi-section homes with an insulating gasket for floor, wall, and ceiling air barriers

Rehabbed Homes

The EPA realizes that rehabilitating a home brings different challenges than building a new home or making improvements to one that’s already in decent condition. If you’re looking at this kind of a project, here’s a link to the specific recommendations from the EPA.

Why You Should Bother With Energy Star Certification

It’s not necessarily easy to earn your Energy Star certification. You might be thinking, why even bother? But once you better understand the benefits of being Energy Star approved, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do so sooner!

Saving Money

How much money do you spend on your monthly energy bills currently? This article by energy resource Electric Choice highlights the average energy bill costs throughout the U.S.

The average is around $100 per month, even closer to $150 for a handful of states. If that’s the price of your monthly energy bill, that means you’re paying $1,800 a year on energy costs!

Picture of a hand dropping a coin into a pink ceramic piggy bank.
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

By making your home Energy Star certified, your home will be at least 10 percent more energy efficient than other homes built using the same code, which can improve your costs by 20 percent, says Energy Star here. This page, also from the Energy Star website, suggests you could shave $450 from your annual energy costs.

Doing Your Part For The Environment

We only have one planet, and it’s no secret that it’s not in the greatest shape right now. Greenhouse gas emissions are the major cause of global warming. Carbon dioxide, along with synthetic fluorinated gases, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and methane are called greenhouse gases. These pollutants spread in the atmosphere, absorbing the solar radiation and sunlight from the earth and making the planet hotter.

These gases are produced in several different ways. When it comes to home energy use, electricity usage (emissions produced by power plants) and burning fuels for heat are two of the biggest factors.

Energy Star here states that your certified home will produce greenhouse gas emissions at a rate of 35 percent less. Talk about doing your part for the environment!

Features such as a water protection system, Energy Star lighting, a thermal enclosure system, and a green HVAC are all energy-efficient measures within reach of homeowners. Being eco-friendly conserves the precious resources we have and limits water and air pollution for a happier planet.

Greater Peace Of Mind

We all know how upsetting it can be to listen to your dying air conditioner slowly chug, or to feel a draft in your living room and know that it’s due to your old windows. These are expensive replacements, and if you don’t have an emergency fund, they can put a huge hurt on your wallet.

Energy Star certification can give you peace of mind knowing that everything is up to speed, from the construction of your home to the appliances.

Financing an Energy Star Home

Naturally, a better-built home all around might cost a bit more money. Surprisingly, if done right, it is only an incremental increase in the price of a new home as shown in another article we did here.

Still though – the budget may require getting a bigger loan to help pay for these upgrades. While you’ll get the savings back over time, often financing is needed to make it happen today. Luckily, there are many options out there to look into, including energy efficiency mortgages and other loans that we have also written about here.

Increased Curb Appeal  

You might decide to sell your home one day, but how much money are you going to get for it? Well, if it’s Energy Star certified, it could bring you a higher profit. Per the link above, Energy Star claims that energy-efficient buildings sell for one to three percent more than their original asking price.

Graphic of a row of houses for sale with one "sold" sign. Energy Star Certification can make your home more attractive than comparable properties when it's time to sell.
Energy Star Certification can make your home more attractive than comparable properties when it’s time to sell.

Conclusion

Energy Star-certified homes have to pass rigorous requirements as established by the EPA, but it’s still a good idea to get certified. You’ll enjoy greater energy bill savings, reduce your rate of greenhouse gas emissions, and rest easy knowing that your home is worth more than it was originally!

For more information on how to get Energy Star certified, keep watching for the next installment of our Energy Star series.

Erin Shine

Erin Shine

Founder | Attainable Home

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