Eartha Steward |

Eartha Steward

by Eartha Steward
The Energy Star logo is a good indication that a home is energy efficient.

Dear Eartha: Can you tell me a little more about the Energy Star program?

Charles, Frisco

Whether you’re a homeowner or a homebuyer, more and more of us are paying attention to home energy efficiency. Everything from insulation to your refrigerator will affect your home’s energy demand. And the energy used in your home often comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which contributes to global warming and can cause smog and acid rain.

The Energy Star mark is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. To earn the Energy Star, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are way more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code, to the tune of 15 percent more. Plus, they include energy-saving features that typically make them 20-30 percent more efficient than your run-of-the-mill, standard home.

For all you first-time homeowners ready to dive into debt and purchase a new home, ask your Realtor if your prospective pad is Energy Star certified. This is a sure-fire way to know your new home is energy efficient.

If you own or are looking to purchase an existing home that isn’t Energy Star, you’re not out of luck. There are quite a few ways to go about improving the efficiency of older homes. The first step is to have an energy audit preformed by a certified building analyst (BA). The BA will inspect your home and determine how well the systems in your home are working together. They can then make recommendations on improvements in order of importance. These improvements will help you save on your home energy bills and help save resources.

Another way to improve the efficiency of older homes is to determine your Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score. The HERS score will give you quantified results about your homes energy usage. It essentially serves as a mile per gallon rating for a home. Our residential energy specialist Matt Wright always enjoys reminding us that you wouldn’t buy a new car without knowing its mpg rating, so why would you buy a home without knowing its energy use? Well put, Matt, especially since the typical home is your family’s biggest energy user.

Appliances and household products such as your refrigerator, boiler and washing machine all contribute to your home’s energy use. If you’re replacing older appliances, be sure to purchase Energy Star qualified products, which have the blue Energy Star logo. This means they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Dept. of Energy. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. Don’t forget to properly recycle your dated appliances.

If you’re reading this wondering, who the heck do I call for an audit or who should I call with Energy Star questions, wonder no more. The High Country Conservation Center is now an Energy Star Partner and offers a full line of services for Home Energy Ratings. This includes Energy Star Certification for new and existing homes as well as home energy audits. Call us to learn how to save money on home energy bills and save big on greenhouse gas emissions. For more information on Energy Star, visit

Eartha Steward is written Jennifer Santry and Erin Makowsky at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Submit questions to Eartha at

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