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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Energy Efficient Homes - How Energy Star Homes Save Money - thedailygreen.com

Energy Star homes save up to 30% on energy costs, have lower foreclosure rates and provide a living environment homeowners like. So why aren't builders building more, and why aren't more people buying?

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Krista and Micah Fuerst were looking near here to buy their first place together, and had narrowed it down to two houses: One built 25 years ago, the other brand new and built to strict energy efficiency standards. The couple's choice was easy: They picked the Energy Star home, which the U.S. had certified because it will use about one-fifth to one-third less energy than a comparable home.

But they're in the minority. Most homebuyers don't think about the ongoing costs of home ownership beyond the mortgage and taxes; using energy costs, too. And fewer still think about the pollution that energy use creates, but home energy use accounts for 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The proportion of newly built Energy Star homes is growing, but still only represents 20 percent of new homes built in 2009, according to Sam Rashkin, national director of the Home Energy Star program.

Despite the slow increase in newly built efficient homes, some 99 percent of existing houses are "sick" – damp, drafty, dusty, noisy and expensive to heat and cool. They "could be made at least 30 percent more energy-efficient with highly cost-effective, tried-and-true energy-efficiency improvements," according to Rashkin. A 30% reduction in energy use is a 30% reduction in home energy costs; newly built Energy Star homes have, since 1995, saved homeowners an estimated $1.2 billion.

The Energy Star program won't fix those old houses. Energy Star designations go to the cream of the housing stock; if just one in five new homes meets these standards, far fewer renovations do. So if energy efficient homes cost homeowners less and pollute less, why aren't they more commonplace? Experts say economics and regulations are the root of the problem: Mortgages are structured in ways that fail to recognize the benefits of energy efficiency, while a patchwork of inconsistent and ill-enforced energy codes provides conflicting signals to industry.

----Read the rest of the article:Energy Efficient Homes - How Energy Star Homes Save Money - thedailygreen.com


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