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Community and Q&A

Design and efficiency programs, certification, etc.

Doug_Epperly | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on


I’ve done a little research into certifying the home we are planning under an efficient energy/design program, such as Energy Star. It’s not clear to me what the benefits of such programs are to a residential owner/builder. My initial impression is that there is expense associated with the programs (i.e., direct costs other than construction costs) that may not be recovered.

So, I’d appreciate your views of the benefits of such programs to a residential, one-time, owner/builder, if any. To be honest, for me there probably needs to be some kind of financial incentive to undertake such efforts, rather than just verification of having met some program goals, which is something we already will likely achieve with our design.

Are there particular programs we should look into? Are we missing something?

Thanks, Doug

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    The Energy Star Homes program is administered differently in different states, but in many states, a builder can receive free or subsidized benefits by enrolling in Energy Star. These benefits may include a free blower door test, free LED fixtures or CFL bulbs, etc. So it's certainly worth checking out your state's Energy Star Homes program before making your decision.

    For more information on this topic, check out this overview of certification programs from the GBA Encyclopedia: Green Rating Systems for Home Building.

  2. mikeferro | | #2

    I am just finishing-up building an Energy Star Home. When I started my project I too was not sure I wanted to pursue certification. However, now that I have gone through the process I would absolutely advocate for it.

    First, certification (at least for me) was a minimal cost and a great way to ensure my builder adhered to the prescriptive measures in my plans.

    Second, you can create a great home plan that utilizes the best building science and yet when it is time to build your house there will inevitably be deviations from the plan. Having an Energy Consultant on board (A HERS rater is required for Energy star) is a huge help when you need to make quick decisions that may affect your buildings performance.

    Finally, while there is not an immediate payback in all states, if you ever do decide to sell a certified home is worth more.

  3. brp_nh | | #3

    We went through Energy Star with our house build (we acted as GCs) and I would highly recommend it. We were very focused on energy efficiency and found it pretty easy to meet the program requirements.

    There was no cost to us because our electric utility paid for it. We mostly maxed out the rebates and received a check upon completion for almost $4k.

    The HERS rater was very helpful: insulation inspections, overall & HVAC advice, heat load calculations, blower door tests, etc.

  4. Doug_Epperly | | #4

    Martin, Mike and Brian,

    Thanks for sharing you insights!


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