8 Energy Star Requirements for New Homes and How to Meet Them

8 Energy Star Requirements for New Homes and How to Meet Them

With some uncertainty surrounding energy demand and pricing, homeowners and builders are more focused than ever on building energy-efficient homes. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate components into new-build homes that will consume less energy and promote a more sustainable environment.

Energy Star has developed a program to help standardize the building of energy-efficient homes. The Residential New Construction Program outlines the requirements necessary for a new home to meet Energy Star’s strict energy efficiency standards.

What Is Energy Star?

Energy Star was established in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The purpose then and now has been to provide information on energy efficiency related to residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and establish a standard for energy-efficient products.

Energy Star Homes Requirements

8 Energy Star Requirements for New Homes

To verify your new construction home is compliant with Energy Star Homes Program requirements, work alongside your builder to incorporate the following items into the scope of the project.

1. Ensure the Exterior is Air Sealed

Any cracks, holes, or openings present on a home's exterior allow air, moisture, dust, or pests inside. Additionally, these openings enable energy loss as treated air from the interior of your home can escape, reducing the efficiency of your HVAC system. Therefore, one of Energy Star homes requirements is to ensure properly sealed exterior openings.

Gaps around windows, doors, and pipes, along with other exterior cracks or holes, should be adequately sealed with a caulk or foam material. It is important to address these openings during the early stages of construction; access can become more difficult as building layers are installed.

2. Use High-Performance Windows

Windows with insulated frames and protective glass coatings perform better and help keep your home’s temperature regulated. Energy Star requirements for homes include using windows that meet or exceed national performance standards.

The exact standards are based on window performance criteria set by the National Fenestration Rating Council and depend on the home’s climate. Homeowners and builders often use already Energy Star certified windows to ensure they meet this requirement.

3. Install Adequate Insulation

In addition to air sealing and high-performance windows, adequate insulation is necessary to create an impenetrable building envelope. Therefore, Energy Star requires that new construction homes install enough insulation per applicable building codes.

Builders should use enough insulation to meet at least the minimum required R-value. Furthermore, the insulation must be installed correctly: aligned with air barriers, positioned with minimal gaps, and fitted around pipes and wires.

4. Use Efficient HVAC Equipment

To reduce energy consumption, Energy Star requirements for homes include installing energy-efficient HVAC equipment. Not only will this equipment use less energy, but it will also enable a more comfortable environment, create less noise, and reduce utility and maintenance costs.

Depending on the type of home heating system, homeowners should choose an Energy Star certified furnace, heat pump, boiler, and an Energy Star certified air conditioning unit. To optimize the efficiency of your HVAC system further, consider also installing a smart thermostat with temperature learning features.

5. HVAC System Must Be Properly Designed & Installed

Energy Star certified homes should be equipped with a properly designed HVAC system to optimize energy performance. An HVAC professional must accurately size the system based on the home’s square footage and demand.

Ductwork should be installed without kinks or sharp turns to allow unrestricted air flow and adequately sealed to avoid air leakage. In addition, builders should meet all of the EPA’s HVAC Quality Installation inspection requirements during construction.

6. Include a Mechanical Ventilation System

Energy Star homes program requirements necessitate a whole-house mechanical ventilation system to be installed. This system allows the exchange of your indoor air with fresh outside air, reducing airborne pollutants in your home.

Whole-house ventilation uses exhaust and supply air vents to continually replace your home's air. Bathrooms should also be equipped with exhaust fans to pull out moisture. After construction is complete, filters should be replaced before occupancy.

7. Install Water Management Measures

Managing the water around your property protects your home from water damage and the potential for mold or mildew growth. Energy Star homes must meet EPA’s water management requirements to control rainfall and moisture.

Moisture barriers should be placed around foundation walls, yards should be sloped away from the home, and underground drains should be installed on occasion. In addition, use roof flashing to keep moisture out, gutters to direct water away, and moisture-resistant materials to prevent water damage.

8. Choose Efficient Appliances & Lighting

Appliances and lighting make up another large portion of energy consumption in a household. Therefore, an Energy Star home is required to have high-quality, reliable, and efficient kitchen appliances and light fixtures.

Energy Star has certified many brands and models of refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, fans, and light fixtures that meet their energy efficiency standards. Choose from this selection to guarantee your home appliances and lighting will meet the Residential New Construction Program requirements.

Achieve Adequate Exterior Insulation with Insulated Concrete Forms

Using Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms as the building envelope, for below and above grade walls, will achieve a top rated Energy Star home. The superior continuous insulation, thermal mass and air tightness properties of Fox Blocks significantly reduces heating and cooling costs providing a very comfortable and safe Energy Star home.

Contact us today for more information on Fox Block’s insulated concrete forms and other products.