ENERGY STAR is the government-backed program that helps us all save money and protect our environment with energy-efficient products and practices. An ENERGY STAR qualified home meets 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.
Homebuilders have two ways to earn the ENERY STAR qualification and these are referred to as the Prescriptive Path and the Performance Path. The Prescriptive Path requires meeting defined minimum specifications for the thermal envelope and the key internal systems (the Builders Option Package) while the Performance Path requires a HERS index rating of 85 or less. In both cases the home must pass the ENERGY STAR Thermal Bypass Checklist and meet certain other criteria.
The Performance Path is the more common path in Connecticut, particularly since the current rebate program from the CT Energy Efficiency Fund offers a sliding-scale of rebates based on the home’s HERS index. In general the Performance Path is more flexible and covers both custom and production homes while the Prescriptive Path is well-suited to production builders who build many homes to the same set of specifications.
For the new home buyer the ENERGY STAR qualification is an independent verification of the home’s energy efficiency. We also provide our clients with estimates of each home’s annual energy cost compared to a code-built home and what these savings would pay for in terms of an increased mortgage.
The ENERGY STAR qualification is also a proven benefit on resale of the home. While the first buyer of a home has often seen the insulation and other energy-saving features built into the home during construction the potential future buyer has no such assurance. However an ENERGY STAR certificate provides documentary proof at the time of any future sale that the home was inspected by an independent rater at the time of construction and met the ENERY STAR standards.