It starts with ENERGY STAR®
Information from: www.energystar.gov
Homebuilders and homebuyers across the country are increasingly interested in green building. But what exactly makes a home green?
Green building means improving the way that homes and homebuilding sites use energy, water, and materials to reduce impacts on human health and the environment. Building a green home means making environmentally-preferable and sustainable decisions throughout the building process-decisions that will minimize the environmental impact of the home while it is being built and over the many years it will be lived in.
Your investment in Energy Star approved HVAC products with high SEER, HSPF and AFUE ratings will substantially lower your monthly utility bills. Now you and your bank account can feel good about a better tomorrow.
Did you know that a typical home can cause twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the typical car?
Each ENERGY STAR qualified home can keep 4,500 lbs of greenhouse gases out of our air each year. And because homes have such long life spans, this environmental benefit lasts for many, many years.
What should homebuyers look for first in a green home?
Energy efficiency is the place to start. That's because the energy used in homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and risks of global climate change. So, the less energy used, the less air pollution generated. And the easy way to make sure a new home is energy efficient is to look for the blue ENERGY STAR mark, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.
ENERGY STAR qualified homes are independently verified to meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes save money on utility bills, provide a more comfortable living environment with better indoor air quality, and help protect the environment.
Typical features to look for in ENERGY STAR qualified homes include:
- An Efficient Home Envelope, with effective levels of wall, floor and attic insulation properly installed, comprehensive air barrier details, and high-performance windows;
- Efficient Air Distribution, where ducts are installed with minimum air leakage and are effectively insulated;
- Efficient Equipment for heating, cooling, and water heating;
- Efficient Lighting, including fixtures that earn the ENERGY STAR; and
- Efficient Appliances, including ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers, refrigerators, and clothes washers.
These energy efficiency improvements save homeowners money - about $200 to $400 per year on utility bills. More importantly, monthly energy savings can easily exceed any additional mortgage cost for the energy efficiency improvements, resulting in a positive cash flow from the first day of home ownership. As a result, the cost-effectiveness of ENERGY STAR improvements can help offset additional costs associated with other green home features.
What comes after energy efficiency?
Homebuyers can also look for the Indoor airPLUS label - a new specification developed by EPA to address the indoor environment component of green building. Homes that achieve this level of excellence are first qualified as ENERGY STAR, and then also incorporate more than 60 additional home design and construction features to control moisture, chemical exposure, radon, pests, ventilation, and filtration. Together, these features help protect qualified homes and their residents from mold, chemicals, combustion gases, and other airborne pollutants.
Completing the green home picture
Through ENERGY STAR qualified homes and the Indoor airPLUS Program, homebuyers can address two critical green home elements. Then, look to the wide variety of available green home programs to complete the picture with water-efficient products, renewable energy technologies, waste reduction, recycling, and sustainable land development practices.
Download the Energy Star PDF: Green Begins With ENERGY STAR
How Can I Reduce My Impact?
This information from www.epa.gov
Energy efficiency and clean energy supply choices work together
Energy efficiency means delivering the same (or more) services for less energy. Using less energy means power plants generate less, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality. Energy efficiency is practiced during the use of the energy in your home or office.
Clean energy supply includes renewable energy and clean distributed generation, such as combined heat and power. Many businesses are installing renewable energy and combined heat and power at their buildings to save them money, reduce their environmental impact, and provide greater control of their energy use.
So how can you make a difference through energy efficiency? Just follow these quick steps to reduce energy use in your home and at the office.
- Buy ENERGY STAR products, when needed and be sure the "stand-by mode" function is activated.
- If every American home replaced their 5 most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with ENERGY STAR qualified lighting, we would save close to $8 billion each year in energy costs, and together we’d prevent the greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars.
- Use an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat that can automatically adjust the temperature of your home or office when you are away.
- Check with your local utility or use our Special Offers search to see what incentives or rebates are available for the purchase of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, lighting, or HVAC systems.
- Seal and insulate your home and office to improve comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs. EPA recommends Home Sealing to improve your home’s "envelope" or the outer walls, ceiling, windows, and floors. To improve the envelope of your home: Add insulation, seal air-leaks, and choose an ENERGY STAR labeled window if you are in the market for new windows.
How can you help make a difference by using a clean energy supply?
- Visit the Green Power Locator to find out how you can purchase green power for your home and business.
- The EPA Power Profiler is a tool developed by EPA to help users determine the specific air emissions impacts associated with their home or business's electricity use.
- Use the "Is My Facility a Good Candidate for CHP?" tool to find out if your business may be a good candidate for combined heat and power.