Homes that make a difference, a letter from the U.S. EPA

Guest post By Jonathan Passe, Director of EPA’s ENERGY STAR Residential Branch

“Home is where the heart is.” “There’s no place like home.” “Home is your sanctuary.” These are all phrases that we’re familiar with when it comes to talking about our homes. But what about the fact that when you’re relaxing in the comfort of your own home, you could also be fighting one of the most pressing issues facing our country? The threat of climate change.

The message of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is clear: the time to act on climate change is now. With more than 17 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions coming from the energy we use to power our homes, both current and potential homeowners have an opportunity to contribute to the cause, simply by purchasing and living in more energy-efficient houses.

EPA House Graphic

Most people had no idea about the environmental impacts of their homes back in 1995 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first introduced ENERGY STAR certified homes. Over the past 20 years, ENERGY STAR has been a driving force of increased consumer demand for energy-efficient homes. Today, the ENERGY STAR blue label is recognized as a trusted symbol for thousands of quality products and well-built energy-efficient houses.

Homes that receive the ENERGY STAR label undergo stringent and systematic certification processes to ensure that each home meets the EPA’s strict energy efficiency requirements. These include:

  • A thermal enclosure system with comprehensive air sealing, quality-installed insulation, and high-performance windows to deliver improved comfort and lower utility bills.
  • A high-efficiency heating, ventilating, and cooling system that’s designed and installed for optimal performance.
  • A comprehensive water management system to protect roofs, walls, and foundations from moisture damage.
  • Energy-efficient lighting and appliances that keep utility bills low while providing better performance and longevity.

These energy efficient features allow ENERGY STAR certified homes to be up to 30 percent more efficient than standard new homes. As the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program celebrates a 20-year milestone, we are granted an opportunity to look at all the program has accomplished.

On average, an ENERGY STAR certified home emits 3,700 pounds less greenhouse gas than a standard home. And in the past 20 years, homeowners have collectively saved $4.7 billion on their energy bills while reducing carbon emissions by more than 53 billion pounds. That’s equivalent to the carbon emitted from consuming 61 million barrels of oil.

If you don’t live in an ENERGY STAR certified home there are still many steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR Home Advisor is a great tool for improving energy efficiency in the way that works best for you and your specific needs. If you want to see suggested updates to make in each room of your house try the ENERGY STAR @ Home tour and see the potential for savings in common household items.

As we’ve seen, simple choices made by everyday homeowners help move us forward on our journey towards a better environment. And ENERGY STAR is here to help by making it simple for homeowners to make energy efficient choices.

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