ENERGY STAR is a 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 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than code-built homes.
Homebuilders have two ways to earn the ENERGY 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 about 70 or less. In both cases the home must comply with the ENERGY STAR Checklists that cover required best practices in envelope insulation and air sealing, water management and HVAC design, installation and commissioning.
The Performance Path is the more common path in Connecticut, particularly since the Residential New Construction 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 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 ENERGY STAR standards.