You may have heard references to Energy Star Certified homes, but what do Energy Star Ratings mean?
There are a few things you need to understand to make sense of the rating system and the certification itself. Here’s a helpful breakdown of how you can use the Energy Star ratings to evaluate new homes or to help you upgrade your current home’s efficiency.
The basics: What is the Energy Star Program?
Back in 1992, the EPA initiated a new campaign called Energy Star — a labeling program that manufacturers of appliances (and homes, since 1995) can use to evaluate how earth-friendly and efficient their products are.
Nowadays, all major appliance makers have to test their products before sale using standards given by the Department of Energy. You interact with the test results every time you read one of those yellow and black Energy Guide stickers.
The labels tell consumers the amount of energy the appliance requires, estimated yearly operating costs, and a comparison to similar products. Highly efficient products earn the blue Energy Star certification logo.
Obviously, the idea is that energy-efficient products will benefit both the environment and your pocketbook. The same concept led to the creation of an energy rating program for homes.
What do Energy Star ratings mean for new homes?
No one wants an ugly yellow label on their white picket fence, so instead we use the National Energy Performance Rating.
This rating system is based on a scale of 1-100, where 50 is an average performance for similar buildings, and 75 or higher is reserved for highly efficient homes. These homes, in addition to respecting the natural environment and resources, have the potential to save homeowners money with lower monthly utility bills.
The Energy Star Residential New Construction Program gives certifications to highly efficient homes and apartments using a thorough evaluation system.
The calculations to determine the Energy Star rating for a home are thorough. They take into account the type of building, location, size, occupancy, and appliances. Certified homes must be at least 10% more efficient than homes built to code and have special standards for:
- Thermal enclosure and sealing
- High-efficiency climate control systems
- A complete water management system
- Energy Star certified lighting and appliances throughout
But new homes aren’t the only ones with Energy Star ratings. You can also evaluate your current home’s efficiency with an Energy Star number.
How can I find out my current home’s Energy Star rating?
Though older construction isn’t eligible for certification through the Energy Star Residential New Construction Program, you can still learn a great deal from performing a simple but thorough evaluation on your current dwelling.
There’s a handy tool called the Home Energy Yardstick that will guide you through a series of questions. Head’s up: You’ll want to have a year’s worth of utility bills ready to reference.
After entering your numbers, the website takes into consideration the highest and lowest potential efficiency of a home like yours and then takes your numbers into account. These factors interact to give you a rating number between one and 100, where 75 and higher indicate great energy efficiency.
Find an Energy Star certified Home in Las Cruces
If you’ve had unanswered questions like, “What do Energy Star ratings mean?” or “How are the schools in this neighborhood?,” we’re here to give you answers!
Contact a Steinborn & Associates REALTOR™ today for professional service and answers to all your questions about living green in Las Cruces. We have the most extensive online listings (including Energy Star certified homes) in the area.