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Why you should buy EnergyStar appliances

If you are interested in managing your energy costs, then you should look for the Energy Star whenever you purchase an appliance for your home including:washers, dryers, dishwashers, water heaters, air conditioners, heat pumps and many more.

The Energy Star label is the easiest way for consumers to recognize the most efficient heating systems, cooling systems, appliances and electronics.

The Energy Star label means that the product wearing the label is in the top 15 percent of efficiency compared to similar products. Energy Star appliances have been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy as being the most energy efficient. The federal government also requires that most appliances have a yellow and black Energy Guide label to forecast the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance.

The average household spends $1,500 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. EPA estimates that if one in 10 U.S. households used heating and cooling equipment that has earned the Energy Star label, the change would prevent an estimated 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

When heating equipment reaches 15 or more years of age, EPA and the U.S. Dept. of Energy recommend that homeowners consider a more energy-efficient replacement. Many furnaces, heat pumps, boilers and thermostats meet Energy Star's strict standards for energy efficiency set by the EPA and DOE.

The Energy Star symbol is now recognized in Canada, Australia, Europe, China and many other countries. More than 9,000 organizations have become Energy Star partners and are committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes and businesses.

You can make your home more energy efficient by insisting on the Energy Star label whenever you buy any home appliance. You can find out more information about Energy Star and advanced household appliances at the Energy Star website: www.energystar.gov Or call 1-888-STAR-YES.

Energy Star Homes

The Energy Star home rating means that the homebuilder has taken extraordinary steps to design and build a structure that meets the Environmental Protection Agency's strict standards for energy efficiency. These homes are inspected by a trained and qualified home energy rater, who verifies that the home has the characteristics normally associated with low energy costs. To identify whether a home has earned the Energy Star rating, check for a 3 x 5" blue label on the inside of the electrical box.

When you are ready to shop for an Energy Star qualified home, look for the following specifications:

  • The house was tested for airtightness with a blower-door test.
  • The ducts were tested for airtightness with a blower-door test.
  • The heating system bears the Energy Star label.
  • The air conditioning system bears a separate Energy Star label on the outdoor compressor unit.
  • The windows and all major kitchen and laundry appliances bear the Energy Star label.
  • The home has a central ventilation system, or at least high-efficiency, quiet exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.

For more information on Energy Star qualified homes, visit www.energystar.gov/homes

Blower door test

Professional energy auditors use blower door tests to help determine a home's airtightness.
These are some reasons for establishing the proper building tightness:

A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. The auditors may use a smoke pencil to detect air leaks. These tests determine the air infiltration rate of a building.

Blower doors consist of a frame and flexible panel that you can place in a doorway, a variable-speed fan, a pressure gauge to measure the pressure differences inside and outside the home, and an airflow manometer and hoses for measuring airflow.

Sources:
John Krigger, Saturn Resource Management. Author of numerous energy efficiency books including Surviving the Seasons and Residential Energy: Cost Savings and Comfort for Existing Buildings

North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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