What New Home Buyers Should Know About Energy Efficiency

In light of rising energy costs and environmental concerns, energy efficiency is an increasingly desirable feature on the checklist of new home buyers in the Portland area. Just because a home is newly built, however, does not necessarily mean it is energy efficient.

When you’re building a new custom home in Oregon, you must do your due diligence to ensure energy efficiency is a top priority throughout both design and construction. One of the best ways to know your home will reduce your energy use and save you money, in the long run, is by adhering to guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program. Residential properties must meet a variety of strict energy-efficiency specifications in order to earn the label of an ENERGY STAR-certified home.

What are the Features and Benefits of Energy Efficient Homes?

Building your home to ENERGY STAR standards will change how your new Portland home looks and feels, in addition to providing an average $300 in annual savings. Here is a look at some of the key components of an energy-efficient home:

1. High-efficiency Heating and Cooling

ENERGY STAR-certified homes include high-efficiency systems that are engineered and installed to deliver better moisture control, improved indoor air quality, and quieter operation, according to the EPA. Higher efficiency equipment uses less energy while still delivering premium performance. The ventilation systems also continuously exchange indoor and outdoor areas to decrease the amount of air pollutants in your home, which is a benefit to your family’s health.

2. Complete Thermal Enclosure

Another feature of an ENERGY STAR-certified home is a combination of high-quality and properly installed insulation, comprehensive area sealing, and high-performance windows that incorporate advanced technologies, such as improved frames and protective coatings. Together, these different features improve the durability and comfort of your new home. Additionally, the complete thermal enclosure systems translates into using less energy for cooling, heating, and water heating, which means you can save approximately 10% on your annual utility bills, according to the EPA.

3. Water Protection System

Achieving energy efficiency is not merely about using the right materials but also implementing best building practices during construction. Both elements must be present when adding a complete water management system to your new home. Not only do energy-efficient systems include the right building materials, but your builder employs best practices—such as moisture barriers, flashing, and heavy-duty membrane—to effectively drain water from the roofs, walls, and foundation and prevent water - and mold damage to your home.

4. Efficient Lighting and Appliances

Another way to improve the energy efficiency of your new home is to use ENERGY STAR-certified lighting, appliances, and fans. After all, household appliances account for about 11% of energy use in a home. ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, ventilation fans, and ceiling fans, help reduce those energy costs without sacrificing quality, performance, or durability. Additionally, you can find ENERGY STAR-certified lighting fixtures and bulbs in a variety of shapes and sizes, which enables you to still create the atmosphere you want at home with products that possess longer average lifespans.

5. Independent Inspections and Tests

To earn an ENERGY STAR certification, a new home must also undergo a process of independent testing and inspections to ensure it meets the EPA's requirements. During design and construction, the home builder and Home Energy Rater take several steps to meet these requirements, from the builder becoming an ENERGY STAR partner and selecting energy-efficient features to the rater performing field verification and quality assurance. When you see the ENERGY STAR label, you can rest assured your home was properly constructed and vetted to adhere to the requirements.

Building an Energy Efficient Home in Portland

When building your new home in the Portland area, you can’t assume it is energy efficient—unless you work with a company like Renaissance Homes. All of our new homes are energy efficient and ENERGY STAR certified to help you reduce your environmental impact and energy costs while improving the performance, quality, and comfort of your home.