The Wisdom of Building an Energy Star–Labeled Home

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Here are some facts worth knowing: Energy prices have doubled every 10 years for the past 30 years. Today, the United States imports more than 5.5 million barrels of oil per day from OPEC—to the tune of over $550 million per day. Ouch! Additionally, many experts agree that energy prices will spiral out of control in the coming years. It makes sense, therefore, to conserve as much energy as possible, starting with your home.

If you choose to build an Energy Star–labeled home, you might pay, on average 3 to 5 percent more in upfront costs, but you’ll recoup them in as little as three to five years. Why? Energy Star–labeled homes are, at a minimum 15 percent more efficient than code-built homes; the homes that I build are typically 40–50 percent more efficient than code-built homes. That means my clients spend about half of what their neighbors pay for their energy bills. I am currently building a 3,500–square foot, four-bedroom, three-bath home with gourmet kitchen, granite counter tops, hardwood floors that has a guaranteed heating and cooling cost of $59.00 per month. Enough said.
But just what is an Energy Star home? Below, some basic elements:

Effective Insulation: Properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, reduced energy use, and increased comfort.

High-Performance Windows: Energy-efficient windows employ advanced technologies, such as protective coating and improved frames, to help keep heat in during the winter and out during summer. These windows also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can discolor carpets and furnishings.

Tight Construction and Duct Work: Sealing holes and cracks in a home’s “envelope” and in heating and cooling duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility and maintenance.

Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment: In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of the home. When properly installed into a tightly sealed home, this equipment won’t have to work so hard to heat and cool the home.

Third Party Verification: This is perhaps one of the most important benefits of an Energy Star-labeled home. Raters conduct onsite testing and inspection to verify the energy efficiency measures, as well as insulation, air tightness, and duct sealing details. A rater can also perform a blower door test to verify the tightness of the home. The upshot is, a third party assures that the home is what it is represented to be, giving the homeowner peace of mind—and that, as the ad slogan goes, is priceless.

For additional information and access to the Energy Star Web site:

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