WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that nearly 17 percent of all single-family homes built nationally in 2008 earned the Energy Star label, up from 12 percent in 2007. EPA said that both home builders and home buyers are continuing to invest in high performing homes that save consumers money on their utility bills and help protect the environment.

“Every year more Americans decide to cut their energy bills and help keep the air clean in their communities by buying a new home that has earned EPA’s Energy Star. Features like properly installed insulation, high-performance windows, and high-efficiency heating and cooling can reduce home energy needs by 20 to 30 percent, saving American families thousands of dollars on their utility bills,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Even in a difficult market, the interest in Energy Star qualified homes keeps rising. We’re helping builders and home buyers to protect the environment, safeguard our health, and move the country into a low-carbon energy future.”

In addition, EPA said, market share for Energy Star qualified homes was 20 percent or greater in 15 states in 2008, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.

Nearly 940,000 Energy Star qualified homes have been built to date, with more than 100,000 of these constructed in 2008. In 2008 alone, said EPA, American families living in Energy Star qualified homes achieved annual utility bill savings of more than $250 million - saving over 1.5 billion kWh of electricity and 155 million therms of natural gas while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of nearly 350,000 cars annually.

To earn the Energy Star label, homes must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by EPA. Typically they include energy-saving features such as:

• Efficient heating and cooling equipment

• Tight construction and ducts

• Effective insulation systems

• High-performance windows

• Energy Star qualified lighting and appliances

For more information about Energy Star qualified homes, visit www.energystar.gov/HomesMarketIndex.

Publication date:07/13/2009