Energy Star, a program operated jointly by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has certified appliances, furnaces, electronics, and other home and office products with its bright yellow Energy Star label indicating that the product meets the program's standards of energy efficiency since 1992.

Now Energy Star has a blue label to identify homes meeting its standards for an energy qualified home.

Energy Star maintains that homes, typically new homes, earning the label are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to meet the 2004 International Residential Code and are typically more energy efficient than standard homes.

The ranking is available to any residential building that is three stories or less.  This includes single-family residences, attached and low-rise multi-family dwellings, manufactured homes, homes built using modular techniques, or even older retrofitted homes.

Energy Star uses third party independent raters in the evaluation of homes.  These raters are trained to evaluate construction techniques, perform inspections, and utilize measurement and testing procedures to verify a home's performance.  Raters help builders decide on appropriate energy-efficient features using specialized computer software and a set of climate specific construction specifications developed by the EPA. 

After the building envelope is completed and systems are installed the rater conducts on-site inspections to verify efficiency.  Typically the rater will use a blower door test which measures air leaks, a duct blaster test to evaluate the tightness of the duct work, and a visual inspection of areas where air often permeates or bypasses insulation. 

Energy Star homes require efficiency in four primary areas:

  • Insulation which is properly installed in floors, walls, and attics.
  • Energy efficient windows to keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer.  As a side benefit these windows minimize the damage caused to carpeting, drapes, and furniture from ultra-violet sunlight.
  • Tight construction of the buildings exterior and sealing of heating and air conditioning ducts;
  • Installation of energy efficient heating and cooling systems which, in addition to lowering fuel use, are often quieter and reduce indoor humidity and thus the possibility of mold growth.

In addition, Energy Star homes may also be equipped with energy saving appliances, lighting fixtures, and ventilation fans.

To find a participating Energy Star builder in your area go to and click on the "Partner Resources" tab.