WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new, more rigorous guidelines for new homes to earn the Energy Star label. Compared to the current Energy Star guidelines, the new requirements will make qualified new homes at least 20 percent more efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) - cutting utility bills for qualified homes by 15 percent compared to IECC code-built homes.

EPA said the updated requirements will ensure that the government’s Energy Star label continues to deliver a significant increase in energy efficiency over homes that are built to code and standard builder business practices. These new guidelines will go into effect in January 2011, although some builders may choose to adopt the new requirements earlier.

Key elements of the new Energy Star guidelines include:

• A complete thermal enclosure system: Homes are to have comprehensive air sealing, properly insulated assemblies, and high-performance windows to enhance comfort, improve durability, and reduce utility bills.

• Quality installed complete heating and cooling systems: Homes are to have high-efficiency heating and cooling systems engineered to deliver more comfort, moisture control, and quiet operation, and equipped with fresh-air ventilation to improve air quality.

• A complete water management system: Because Energy Star homes offer a tightly-sealed and insulated building envelope, a comprehensive package of flashing, moisture barriers, and heavy-duty membrane details is critical to help keep water from roofs, walls, and foundations for improved durability and indoor air quality.

• Efficient lighting and appliances: Homes should include Energy Star-qualified lighting, appliances, and fans to help further reduce monthly utility bills and provide high-quality performance.

• Third-party verification: Energy Star qualified homes require verification by independent Home Energy Raters who conduct a comprehensive series of detailed inspections and use specialized diagnostic equipment to test system performance.

For more information, visit www.energystar.gov.

Publication date:05/03/2010