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.
Why should I buy an ENERGY STAR® certified or high performance home?
Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so you’ll want to get the highest quality, the most comfort and the best value for your money. That means buying or building an ENERGY STAR® certified home. Your home will have lower energy and maintenance costs, wall-to-wall comfort and better resale value – because people know that the ENERGY STAR® label means it’s better.
What are the major differences between an ENERGY STAR® certified new home and one that is not?
ENERGY STAR® certified homes meet strict building requirements established by the Environmental Protection Agency. They undergo rigorous tests and inspections as they are built, and are 15 to 30% more efficient than homes built to standard Pennsylvania building codes.
How can I find out more information about how an ENERGY STAR® certified home is built?
Contact an ENERGY STAR® builder partner. You can find some listed on our site or you can go to energystar.gov for a comprehensive list. You can also find additional information at the official ENERGY STAR® website.
How much energy will I save if I buy and ENERGY STAR® certified home?
The average ENERGY STAR® certified home is at least 15% more energy efficient than a home not built to ENERGY STAR® standards. The builder will assign a rating to your home that indicates its actual efficiency based on the home’s features. You will receive documentation of that rating.
How do I know my home is ENERGY STAR® certified?
Look for the blue ENERGY STAR® label on your circuit breaker box or elsewhere in your utility room. If you don’t see one, contact your builder and request documentation that your home has earned ENERGY STAR® certification.
Yes. They are called EEMs, or Energy Efficient Mortgages. An EEM is a mortgage that 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. Contact your lender for details.
What is a HERS Rating?
HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System. A Home Energy Rater (also known as a HERS Rater) is a certified professional that reviews a new home’s construction plans and uses an energy efficiency software package to analyze the home’s design and obtain a pre-construction HERS Index. The Rater then works with the builder to identify the energy efficiency improvements the home needs to make sure it will meet ENERGY STAR guidelines. After onsite inspections and tests (including blower door and duct tests), the Rater uses the test results and data from the plan review to generate the home’s HERS Index Score, also called a HERS Rating.The lower the home’s HERS Index Score, the more energy efficient it is. The Index reference home score is 100; a net-zero energy home scores a zero. Each one-point decrease in the HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy consumption relative to the reference home