WASHINGTON - Builders of new homes in the United States will have to significantly increase the energy efficiency of their homes to meet new Energy Star requirements released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over the next 20 years, EPA estimates that this increase in energy efficiency for Energy Star qualified homes will save homeowners more than $2 billion in utility bills, while eliminating more than 7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify under the revised Energy Star specifications, new homes must have higher levels of insulation inspected for proper installation; complete framing and air barrier assemblies that enable insulation to perform at its full rated value; windows that meet or exceed Energy Star requirements; high-efficiency and properly sized heating and cooling equipment appropriate to the climate; and more energy-efficient water heating, lighting, and appliances. The new specifications build upon a number of recent energy code changes and results from the nation's leading energy efficiency research program for new homes, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Building America program. The revised specifications are being released in the fall of 2005, and will initially take effect July 1, 2006.

Energy Star is a voluntary program, managed by the EPA with assistance from the DOE. The Energy Star label can be found on new homes, appliances, electronics, office equipment, lighting, heating and cooling systems, and buildings. Currently there are more than 2,500 home builders who have constructed more than 400,000 Energy Star qualified homes, including close to 10 percent of the new housing starts in 2004.

For more information about Energy Star, visit www.energystar.gov.

Publication date: 10/03/2005