What are the benefits of building ENERGY STAR® certified homes?
Partnering with ENERGY STAR® establishes you as a leader in energy-efficient construction, and as more and more consumers look for ENERGY STAR® certified homes, you’ll get valuable recognition. You’ll also be eligible for PECO’s Smart Builder Rebates program and the generous cash incentives it offers.
What does it cost to become an ENERGY STAR® builder partner?
Nothing – just the small amount of time it takes to team up with a Rater, fill out the ENERGY STAR® Partnership Agreement and take some online orientation training.
Won’t meeting the ENERGY STAR® guidelines add significantly to a new home’s cost?
An ENERGY STAR® certified new home may have a higher initial cost compared to a comparable home without the energy-efficient features. However, that additional cost is not prohibitive, and the savings in monthly utility bills are usually more than enough to offset any increase in the buyer’s mortgage payment. Plus, buyers of ENERGY STAR® certified homes could be eligible for special mortgages. See below.
Are there special mortgages for energy-efficient homes?
Yes, and you should be sure to mention them to potential ENERGY STAR® homebuyers. These mortgages are called EEMs, or Energy Efficient Mortgages. An EEM credits a home’s energy efficiency within the mortgage and in effect, increases the home’s value. EEMs give borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures as part of a single mortgage, stretching debt-to-income qualifying ratios.
What is the PECO Smart Builder Rebates program?
The PECO New Home Rebates program offers builders incentives to build new homes to ENERGY STAR® standards and high performance new homes to code plus 30%. . The program follows energy efficient new homes guidelines, which guarantee the home is at least 15% more energy efficient than standard built homes.
How much money will consumers save on utility bills for an ENERGY STAR® certified home?
ENERGY STAR® certified and high performance homes must be built to be at least 15% more energy efficient than the state code requires. So homebuyers can expect to save at least 15% on their energy bills compared to a home built just to code. (In general, however, we don’t recommend telling consumers how much money they may save, because utility costs depend upon many factors, including the homebuyer’s family size and lifestyle.)
What is a Home Energy Rater (HERS Rater)?
A HERS Rater is a third-party building professional who works with builders to inspect and test new homes during the construction phase, measuring the structure’s energy characteristics, such as insulation levels, window efficiency, wall-to-window ratios, heating and cooling system efficiency, and the solar orientation of the home. HERS Raters are independent professionals not supplied or paid for by PECO or ENERGY STAR®.
How does a HERS Rater determine if a home qualifies for ENERGY STAR® certification?
Prior to construction, HERS Raters work with their builder clients to conduct a plan analysis to determine the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures for the home. At the pre-drywall stage, the Rater conducts a visual inspection to ensure that the air and thermal barriers in the home are continuous and complete. Toward the end of construction, the HERS Rater inspects the home and performs diagnostic tests (e.g., blower door and duct blaster) to assess the home’s energy performance, then incorporates the results of the inspections and tests into plan analysis software that determines the home’s HERS Index. The qualifying Index threshold is unique for each home.
What happens if a home does not pass the tests to receive ENERGY STAR® certification?
Your HERS Rater will work with you to identify problems that are preventing the home from meeting ENERGY STAR® guidelines. Once these problems are corrected, the home can be re-tested.
What technical assistance will I get from PECO after I submit a project?
PECO New Home Rebates offers on-site training to ensure that all subcontractors understand what scope of work is needed to meet ENERGY STAR® guidelines. In addition, program staff will help builder and Rater partners realize the highest incentive possible in a cost-effective manner.
Who receives program incentives?
PECO pays program incentives for qualified homes only to the participating homebuilder.
Is energy rating software other than REM/Rate acceptable?
Yes. All Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) accredited software will be accepted for use in this program. Currently these include OptiMiser, EnergyGauge USA Version, EnergyInsights™ and REM/Rate.
What sampling protocol is allowable under this program?
PECO New Home Rebates allows the same sampling protocol as approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Program and Chapter Six of the Mortgage Industry National Home Energy Rating Standards (RESNET standards) which governs sampling rating and Sampling Provider accreditation with the following exception:
The unit tested for sampling purposes has to meet all of the requirements for that unit (i.e., the Rater cannot perform duct leakage testing on one unit, Thermal Bypass Checklist on another and air leakage testing on another). All required measures must be completed on the same unit.
In order to utilize the Sampling Protocol, the rater must use a RESNET-approved Sampling Provider, an entity accredited through these standards that oversees the sampling process and issues the sampling certifications that homes meet a particular set of threshold specifications such as the ENERGY STAR® specifications adopted by EPA.
Sampling is intended to provide certification that a group of new homes meets a particular threshold such as ENERGY STAR®, energy code compliance, or qualification for an energy efficiency lending program. It is based on pre-analysis of building plans meeting the intended qualification (e.g., a HERS Index threshold), and subsequent random testing and inspections of a sample set of the as-built homes. Certifying a group of homes by sampling entitles the customer to documentation certifying that the homes meet the desired threshold; it does not constitute a confirmed HERS rating on any home. A worst-case REM/Rate file must be submitted for all sampled residential units.
What are Raters responsible for in terms of HVAC verification?
Raters participating in PECO New Home Rebates are expected to follow the requirements of the EPA ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Program performance path guidelines with regard to HVAC verification. Raters are expected to complete the ENERGY STAR® HVAC Quality Installation System Rater Checklist. Raters are also required by ENERGY STAR® to file the HVAC Quality Installation System Contractor Checklist for each home that receives the ENERGY STAR® certification. This checklist needs to be completed by a credentialed HVAC contractor.