July 29, 2004
Energy Star label now ready for homes
By MIKE GUERARD
Energy Star Homes Northwest
Consumers are reading the label. Whether in the grocery store poring over ingredients and nutritional value, or at the car dealership comparing miles per gallon, consumers are expecting more from their purchases. They're assessing the overall value of the products they buy and increasingly reflecting on the impacts of their purchasing decisions not just on their pocketbooks, but on the environment.
That same appetite for value and environmental sensitivity is carrying over to the way consumers evaluate new home purchases. That's good news for the planet. A typical home in the U.S. produces more air pollution than a car each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, residential homes collectively account for 20 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
With consumer demand for energy efficiency on the rise, the building industry is ready to deliver, thanks to a new program offered by participating local utilities and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a nonprofit corporation supported by electric utilities, public benefits administrators, state governments, public interest groups and energy-efficiency industry representatives.
Energy Star, the national symbol that helps consumers quickly identify the most energy-efficient lighting and appliances from compact fluorescent light bulbs to clothes washers can now be applied to newly constructed energy-efficient homes certified through the Energy Star Homes Northwest program.
The program fosters construction of some of the most energy-efficient homes on the market through high-energy-efficiency requirements and a certification process that verifies building practices. Compared to conventional homes, Energy Star homes use 70 percent or less of the energy typically required for heating, cooling and hot water, and individually keep 4,500 pounds of greenhouse gasses out of the air each year.
Energy Star Homes Northwest uses a higher standard of reliable technologies already familiar to the building industry: air-tight duct systems, insulation and windows; high-efficiency heating and cooling systems; and Energy Star-qualified appliances and lighting. While they may cost a little more, they've proven to attract home buyers willing to make the additional investment to reap the long-term savings. To help builders adopt Energy Star requirements in their new homes, some local utilities also offer incentives.
For many builders, stepping up to higher levels of efficiency is a simple process; and the added savings for consumers are measurable. Homes built to the Energy Star Homes Northwest requirements are expected to be at least 15 percent more energy-efficient than homes built to Washington state codes.
The benefits of building to Energy Star Homes Northwest specifications include:
While designed to contribute to a healthier environment, the program goes far beyond its intended purpose. Already, builders in other parts of the country have found that building to Energy Star specifications enhances their reputations for quality construction, helping attract customers and ensuring long-term satisfaction. For consumers, the benefits are even more long-lasting year-after-year savings on home utility bills.
For more information, see www.NorthwestEnergyStar.com or call the toll-free builder line at (877) 298-2172.
Copyright ©2009 Seattle Daily Journal and DJC.COM.
Comments? Questions? Contact us.