The “Energy Star” standard was born by a program run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to make it easier for businesses and individuals to participate in conservation of natural resources through money-saving energy efficient actions. The program was originally
established in 1992. When the program came to be, some of its primary focuses included reducing air pollution, reducing energy consumption and improving upon energy security.
Energy Star Standards in the Home
Whether in a home or a business, there are two ways to look at the effectiveness of the Energy Star standard. Third party organizations can perform home inspects in order to verify the energy efficiency of a home, for example. Whether it is a brand new home or a home remodel, bringing in specialized home inspectors to appraise the energy efficiency of a home is an important step. The other way to gauge energy efficiency is to look at the products themselves. In order for something to qualify as “Energy Star” compliant, they must be verified by a third party in an EPA-recognized laboratory.
In order for a home to earn an “Energy Star” compliant title, it must be able to meet a strict set of guidelines regarding energy efficiency. There are a few basic steps in preparing a home to be Energy Star compliant, which include:
The home remodeling contractors or home builders responsible for the work will choose to form a partnership with Energy Star. By creating a partnership with EPA, the home builder or home remodeling company is agreeing to affix a label on the home indicating that the home is compliant in the event that it is approved.
The builder will work in conjunction with a rater in order to select the most appropriate home features for energy efficiency. Anyone from home remodeling contractors to home builders and even home improvement contractors can submit an architectural plan to a Home Energy Rater for the required analysis. The rater will look into the plans to determine which combination of different energy efficient features is going to best achieve the Energy Star Label.
Working with trustworthy home contractors is essential because the rater will then need to verify the features and their performance in order to determine whether or not the home is Energy Star compliant. The rater will perform a number of different diagnostic tests and visual inspections in order to verify that everything is properly installed and properly running throughout the home. Energy Star has specific guidelines about how this type of inspection will go.
Finally, the rater will qualify the home as being Energy Star compliant, and will subsequently issue a label indicating that the home is Energy Star compliant. There are generally minimum guidelines for what does and does not qualify a home, meaning that a number of Energy Star rated features need to be installed during the build or renovation.
Increasing Energy Efficiency with Energy Star Features
There are a wide variety of different home products that can benefit the home’s energy efficiency. Some examples include:
* Windows, doors and skylights.
* Roofing products
* Sealants and insulation products
* Battery chargers
* Cordless yard care tools
* Personal care products
* Handheld vacuums
* Cordless power tools
* Audio and Video equipment
* Cordless phones
* Cable boxes
* Ceiling fans
* Decorative lights
* Light fixtures
* Light bulbs
* Office displays
* Imaging equipment
* Uninterruptible power supplies
* Small network equipment
* Pool pumps and heaters
* Water heaters
* High efficiency electric water heaters
* High efficiency gas water heaters
* Tankless gas water heaters
It is important to know that there are a variety of energy efficient models, but to realize the best cost and savings you are going to want to go with products that bear the “Energy Star” label.
The key to installing these types of products is to search for Energy compliant products. These are products that the EPA has certified as being energy efficient following their stringent guidelines. When you find these products commercially they will contain a label that declares them being Energy Star compliant. When you are putting together a home maintenance schedule or a home maintenance checklist, it would be a good idea for you to change out as many products and appliances as you can to replace them with products with an Energy Star rating on them.
Whether you are handling a home remodel on your own, buying a newly constructed home or thinking about making a few basic changes to your home, swapping your old appliances and products for Energy Star models is an excellent idea. Energy Star products will not only help to save you money over time, but they will also reduce your carbon footprint, meaning that you are contributing less to pollution and promoting a green and healthy planet.
Cost for Energy Efficiency Changes
One of the best things that you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home is to bring in a specialist on the matter. Qualified home inspectors or certified energy consultants will be able to go
through your home with a fine-toothed comb, considering each item that could be more energy efficient. At the end, they will be able to provide you with a home inspection report, which will indicate where you can make improvements and changes in your home for greater energy efficiency. The energy and maintenance savings realized by the average homeowner always outweighs the costs associated with bringing in a home inspector. This is definitely something that you will want to consider.
Competition level in some markets drives some home inspectors will offer a free basic consultation before they do the thorough inspection on your property. This is a great way to determine roughly what cost savings you will experience so that you can weigh it against the cost of the full inspection. Home inspectors qualified to conduct energy inspections will be able to critique every appliance, fixture and electronic in your home in order to help you determine which are worth changing out and which are worth keeping in their current state. It may not benefit you to make immediate changes in all of your appliances and fixtures, but generally every change toward greater energy efficiency is going to be a step in the right direction.
Once you have an estimate of where you can save money in your home, you will be able to determine which changes are cost effective and which are not. Oftentimes in will take a mixture of large changes, such as switching to Energy Star certified washing machine, dryer, dish washer and water heater, and small changes, such as light bulbs and charging cables, in order to derive the best possible results.
Energy Star Statistics
* Energy Star products can save home owners significant money. As an example the average American home can save between $125 and $340 per year simply by replacing single pane windows with Energy Star compliant windows.
* Energy Star homes account for nearly 26 percent of all new construction as of 2012. The biggest motivators for this is that homes with Energy Star certified products in it can contribute to greater tax breaks and lower utility bills for new home owners.
* Energy Star compliant refrigerators use as much as 15 percent energy less than models that are not certified.
* Nearly 70 percent of all electricity generated in the United States is done so using natural gas and coal. Reductions associated with Energy Star can reduce demand on this energy infrastructure and extend the life of our natural resources.
* A single Energy Star compliant compact fluorescent light bulb can save you as much as $40 over the lifetime of the light bulb. Five bulbs will save you $200 over the course of the light bulb’s life time. Imagine that the typical United States household has as many as 50 light bulbs or more, so this is a huge savings over the lifetime of your lighting fixtures.
* The Energy Guide label is not the same as an Energy Star label. The Energy Guide label is compulsory for all new appliances available for sale. While this will provide you with information about energy usage of your appliance, it does not mean that the particular model is the most energy efficient one available to you.
The Big Picture on Energy Star
Most people are aware of Energy Star compliant light bulbs and other small fixtures and appliances, but do not realize that so many different electronics and home items can be swapped out for items with greater energy efficiency. The Energy Star name is only attached to products and appliances that meet stringent guidelines for energy efficiency according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This means that when you are switching to an Energy Star labeled product, you know that you are going to not only realize cost savings, but also reduce your footprint on the environment over the long term.
A word on the Compact Florescent Light bulbs (CFL).
Some CFL bulbs have mercury in them. Mercury is a heavy metal,
which causes health issues for anyone that has prolonged exposure. As a result, CFL bubs should be handled with care. They should
not be thrown into household trash. Most big box hardware stores and fire stations have collection barrels for CFLs. Please check this EPA link for full information: http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/recycling-and-disposal-after-cfl-burns-out. Care must also be taken to properly clean up a broken CFL. See this EPA site: http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl.