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ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes

We are proud to provide rating services to qualify new homes for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR qualified new homes are substantially more energy efficient than homes built to the minimum code requirements. Even in states with more rigorous energy codes, the U.S. EPA ensures that ENERGY STAR remains the symbol for truly energy-efficient performance. These homes are good for businesses, consumers, and the environment.

Learn more about ENERGY STAR qualified new homes at http://www.energystar.gov/.

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home, new or existing, must meet 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 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features typically making them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes, including

• Effective Insulation Systems
• Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
• Tight Construction and Ducts
• High–Performance Windows

• ENERGY STAR Qualified Lighting and Appliances

To ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines, third–party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater is required. They work closely with the builder throughout the construction process to help determine the needed energy–saving equipment and construction techniques. They also conduct on–site diagnostic testing and inspections to document that the home is eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR label.


Energy Star Logo

Step 1: Builder Chooses to Partner with a Home Energy Rater

Through a Partnership Agreement with EPA, a builder agrees put an ENERGY STAR label on homes independently verified to meet program guidelines. Through the Partnership Agreement process, the builder also selects a Home Energy Rater to work with to qualify their homes.

Step 2: Builder Works with Home Energy Rater to Select Appropriate Energy–Efficient Features

The builder submits architectural plans to their Home Energy Rater for review and analysis. The Rater looks for key information on the plans to help the builder choose the best combination of energy–efficient features to ensure that the home will earn the ENERGY STAR label when constructed. .

Step 3: Builder Constructs Home and Rater Verifies Features and Performance.

After energy–efficient features are selected, the builder proceeds with construction of the home. Throughout the construction process, the Home Energy Rater performs a number of inspections and diagnostic tests to verify the proper installation of the features and overall energy performance of the home.

Step 4: Rater Qualifies the Home as ENERGY STAR and Issues an ENERGY STAR Label

After the Home Energy Rater completes the final inspection and determines all requirements have been met, the Rater provides the builder with an ENERGY STAR label, which is placed on the circuit breaker box of the home. This label provides the homeowner with documentation that the home is ENERGY STAR qualified.

Features of ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet 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 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes.

Any home three stories or less can earn the ENERGY STAR label if it has been verified to meet EPA's guidelines, including: single family, attached, and low-rise multi-family homes; manufactured homes; systems-built homes (e.g., SIP, ICF, or modular construction); log homes, concrete homes; and even existing retrofitted homes.

ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of 'tried-and-true' energy-efficient features that contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution:

1. Effective Insulation

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

2. High-Performance Windows

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

3. Tight Construction and Ducts

Sealing holes and cracks in the 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.

4. 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.

5. Efficient Products

ENERGY STAR qualified homes may also be equipped with ENERGY STAR qualified products — lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines.

6. Third-Party Verification

With the help of independent Home Energy Raters, ENERGY STAR builder partners choose the most appropriate energy-saving features for their homes. Additionally, raters conduct onsite testing and inspections to verify the energy efficiency measures, as well as insulation, air tightness, and duct sealing details.

For more information on each of these features and to see the benefits of an ENERGY STAR Qualified Home, visit the Features section of their website.


The ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes program is transitioning from Version 2 to Version 3 during 2011.

- Any house permitted before 1 Apr 11 and completed by 31 Dec 11 can be certified under Version 2

- Any house permitted after 1 Apr 11 and completed by 31 Dec 11 can be certified under Version 2.5

- Any house completed after 31 Dec 11 has to be certified under Version 3

The difference between Version 2.5 and Version 3 is items on certain checklists can fail without disqualifying the house. Essentially, all 4 new checklists have to be filled out, but failure on items not previously required doesn’t disqualify the house. However, levels required under Version 2 still apply.

More complete information on the new ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes program

HERS Index

The HERS Index required to qualify a house is now variable. The Version 2 requirement is 85 or less. Now, your Home Energy Rater has to model the house twice. The first is the rated house using prescriptive energy component values. This gives the base HER Index. Then a size adjustment factor is multiplied by the base index to determine the target index when the house is larger than the benchmark house size.

Target HERS Index = Base HERS Index * SAF

SAF = (CFA Benchmark House / CFA Rated House)

SAF: Size adjustment factor
CFA: Conditioned floor area

It used to be that larger houses had an easier time of qualifying as ENERGY STAR than a smaller one. This disparity is removed. Now it’s crucial to decide on energy features early in the project.

HERS Index Target Procedure for National Program Requirements


There are 4 new checklists. Two are filled out by the Home Energy Rater. The HVAC contractor has one, essentially stating each HVAC system is commissioned. The builder completes one about moisture management features.

All four ENERGY STAR Version 3 checklists

Thermal Enclosure System Rater Checklist Guidebook

This document replaces Version 2’s Thermal Bypass Checklist. The Home Energy Rater uses it to verify insulation installation and air sealing.

Beware: Anything less than Grade 1 insulation installation is not tolerated in Version 3.

HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor Checklist

This document essentially states the HVAC system has been commissioned. It enforces requirements from ASHRAE 62.2-2010, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings and ANSI/ACCA 5 QI-2007, HVAC Quality Installation Protocols

As a Georgia HERS Rater, we’re pleased the burden of proof has been shifted back to the HVAC contractor, where it belongs. In California, HERS Raters perform these tasks.

The document is signed by the HVAC system designer and HVAC system installer.

Based on our interpretation of the checklist, a Room-by-Room Manual J heat load calculation is needed because a Manual D duct design is also required.

Documentation that must accompany each checklist include . . .

Manual J Heat Load Calculation
Manual S Equipment Selection
Manual D Duct Design
AHRI Certificate
Ventilation System Design

HVAC diagnostic tests include

Refrigerant Charge
Electricity Use
Air Handler Airflow
Total External Static Pressure
Supply Outlet & Return Inlet Airflow

HVAC System Quality Installation Rater Checklist Guidebook

This checklist forces the Home Energy Rater to evaluate the HVAC contractor’s checklist. The Home Energy Rater then independently determines static pressure, total duct leakage, and leakage to outside, ventilation rates, room pressure differences when doors are closed.

The checklist has criteria for visually evaluating the installation of the HVAC system.

Home InSight is ready, willing, and able to support the HVAC contractor in completing their checklist because we’ve been trained how to verify the commissioning of an HVAC system.

Water Management System Builder Checklist Guidebook

This checklist is filled out by the builder and a builder’s representative, perhaps the building superintendent. It covers water and water vapor management principles for foundations, walls, roofs, and building materials. It doesn’t appear to require anything more than the International Residential Code requires.

HVAC Contractor Qualification

What is radically new is that the HVAC contractor must show evidence of training required to complete the HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor Checklist. HVAC contractors who wish to install systems in ENERGY STAR Version 3 homes are required to be ‘credentialed’ by an EPA–recognized third–party training and oversight organization (H-QUITO).

More information about ENERGY STAR Version 3 HVAC Contractor credentials