Pioneering Energy Efficiency in Arkansas


What does ENERGY STAR© mean for homes?


Energy Star Home Certification

A certified ENERGY STAR© home is built at least 15% more energy efficient than a house built to the 1994 International Energy Conservation Code and probably 17%-18% more efficient than the 1993 IECC adopted by Arkansas.  

Several required ”best practices” must be certified by an approved Energy Rater. These are covered in the Thermal Bypass Checklist that the rater must complete for the house. For more detailed information on what this entails, click here. In addition, the air conditioner should not be oversized more than 15% (or to the next available size).  

Finally, Energy Star Home certification requires verification and performance testing by a certified Energy Rater. This includes both blower door testing to determine whole house leakage as well as duct testing to determine the amount of duct leakage to the outside. 

How does it work?

The process can vary with different Energy Raters and HERS (home energy rating system) providers around the country. 

For new homes in Arkansas, HERS, Inc. can help with a review of the plans, make recommendations, provide an intermediate inspection, and final verification and performance testing. Along the way, we consult as needed with the builder, the subs and the client to help ensure the house will meet the requirements for ENERGY STAR or the  tax credit and pass the performance testing at the end. 

In a typical scenario, the builder sends HERS, Inc.  a set of plans. We do the takeoffs and put the house into the computer and the software determines if the house is likely to qualify for ENERGY STAR and/or the $2,000 tax credit.

If the house does not qualify as designed, we provide options for compliance from which the builder can choose. (e.g. increasing the efficiency of components, adding slab insulation, etc.).  

If the builder wants to go forward and pursue ENERGY STAR Home certification, an inspection is required while the insulation is still visible prior to sheetrocking. (The tax credit does not require this pre-drywall inspection.) 

For Energy Star and the tax credit, a final inspection and testing is required at completion of the house to verify the house was built as designed. In addition, the house is tested for tightness and for duct leakage to the outside.This is much like commissioning the house and ensures the house is constructed as planned and will perform as designed.

The final leakage numbers are then entered into RESNet software and the computer file is sent off for EPA and ENERGY STAR archiving. When approved, the official reports can be printed that document ENERGY STAR compliance, tax credit compliance, Home Energy Rating, certificates, etc. 

Additional construction costs?

The added cost of building an Energy Star certified home depends on what kind of house a builder typically builds. If the best practice measures covered in the Bypass Checklist are addressed, a well-built, minimum code  house can typically achieve Energy Star in Arkansas with one or two of the following: tight ducts, better windows, an insulated slab, or an increase in HVAC efficiency. For builders who already build houses that exceed the minimum code, the added cost may be only the cost of certification.  

This includes: : 

  1. Plan take-off and preliminary software analysis.

  2. Pre-drywall inspection (required for Energy Star & recommended for the tax credit).  

  3. Final inspection and testing.

  4. EPA approval and archiving.

  5. Final reports and documenation. 

Additional or optional costs can include:

• more than two duct systems requiring testing

  1. • $75/hr consulting

  2. • Mileage allowance for houses outside metro Little Rock.

Documentation can be provided for Energy Star Home certification as well as for very efficient homes that qualify for the $2,000 tax credit, and Energy Efficient Mortgage documentation for the mortgage underwriter. 

Energy Analysis Reports

The following are reports that can be generated by REM/Rate software, the approved tool we use for analyzing houses.  

•Action Report: ranks the building elements with the largest energy consumption on a component basis.

•Air Leakage Report: Displays information regarding air leakage in the thermal boundary from the blower door test, duct leakage values, and building ventilation information.

•Component Consumption Summary: shows the heating and cooling energy consumption of the building on a component basis.

•Component Load Summary - presents the heating and cooling load of the building on a component basis.

•Component Design Load Summary - presents the heating and cooling design load of the building on a component basis

•Fuel Summary: Summarizes the end-use energy consumption by fuel type.

•Equipment Sizing Summary - provides information about sizing heating and cooling equipment to meet the peak loads and the minimum Sensible Heat Fraction.

•Lights and Appliances Summary - summarizes the annual lights and appliances costs of the home.

•Performance Summary - summarizes the annual loads, energy consumption, and energy costs for heating, cooling, water heating, and lights and appliances.

•Performance Factors - shows area normalized and climate normalized consumption.

•Source Energy and Emissions Report: summarizes the CO2, SO2, and NOX emissions from the source (power plant) based on the type of fuel used at the home and the location. 

•2005 EPAct Tax Credit: reports whether the home qualifies for tax credits under Section 1332, Credit for Construction of New Energy Efficient Homes, of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Code Compliance and Ratings

•ENERGY STAR Thermal Bypass Inspection Checklist: A report that provides a listing of the items that should appear in a building to achieve certification as a ENERGY STAR Home.

•Home Energy Rating (HERS) Certificate: Provides a home energy rating index and annual energy cost estimate in accordance with the "Mortgage Industry National Home Energy Rating Systems Standards" as promulgated by RESNET.

•2006 International Energy Code Certificate: provided for homes that meet the IECC guidelines.

•Energy Star Home Certificate: provided for homes that qualify for an ENERGY STAR Certification by receiving a HERS rating of 85 or better and passing the Thermal Bypass Inspection.

Find out who’s an Energy Star builder in you area!