What is Energy Star and how does it play into the efficiency of products you place within your new home?  According to the website, “ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency.”  For over 20 years now the Energy Star label and name has been affecting home owners.  There is a misconception among Energy Star products which leads consumers to believe that any product with an Energy Star label is actually very efficient.  This is not necessarily the case.  The Energy Star system is a rating system and these displayed Energy Star stickers found on appliances and other products within the home simply means it has been rated, not automatically efficient or qualified.

If a product is found to be a qualified Energy Star product then you will discover it is found to be more efficient than the standard defined by the Energy Star program, this is the key question to ask when searching energy-efficient products.

So what does this mean?  To be considered energy-efficient the product should boast the best output with the least input; the product will be designed in a way to lower utility bills.  These products are typically more expensive based on materials involved with manufacturing; however cost is typically made up within the first couple of years.

An example of how the Energy Star efficiency works is to compare an electric and gas water heater.  The efficiency rating may be the same among these two products, however the gas system may recover faster, causing the water to heat faster.

As a consumer, you should consider asking the right questions to make sure you are going to benefit from the Energy Star products you place within your new custom home.  A few questions you should ask include:

  • Are the Energy Star appliances you are looking at qualified? This will help you determine if they meet the standards or if they exceed the code requirements for energy efficiency.  An example of this is insulation within Georgia, the code requires R13 Insulation in walls.  Some builders may install the minimum, other builders may exceed and install R15 Insulation or utilize R13 with added foam to increase the efficiency of the product installed.
  • Are mechanical systems designed by an engineer or the installer? If the system is designed by the installer, how do you know they are being installed to maintain the efficiency of the system?
  • Where will the water heater be located?  How long will you have to wait to get hot water?  In some cases the water heater is required to be within a 50ft distance from the faucet, if this unit is placed at 49ft. you may lose water efficiency even though the water heater is an efficient unit.
  • What type of windows will be installed and what are the ratings?  Different types of windows provide different ratings and overall efficiency.  Some window types include aluminum, wood, vinyl and vinyl clad.

Don’t just assume your products are the most efficient available simply because there is an Energy Star label on them.  Do your research and make sure to discuss your energy-efficient requirements with your building consultant.  Do your homework and install products truly designed to benefit your desired results.

For more information about this topic and how it applies to your new custom home contact us at