One quarter billion dollars is a lot. An awful lot. Most people will never even come near that amount of money, but that’s what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Americans saved this past year by switching over to energy efficient homes.
In the EPA’s announcement on July 3, it was reported that 17 percent of all single family homes built across the nation in the year 2008 received the EPA’s Energy Star approval rating, which means that a homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30 percent more efficient than standard homes. The percentage of Energy Star homes was up from 12 percent in 2007.
The increase in Energy Star rated homes shows that home builders and home buyers are investing in homes that save money and the environment. “Every year more Americans decide to cut their energy bills and help keep the air clean in their communities by buying a new home that has earned EPA’s Energy Star,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
“Features like properly installed insulation, high-performance windows and high efficiency heating and cooling can reduce home energy needs by 20 to 30 percent, saving American families thousands of dollars on their utility bills,” Jackson continued. It is savings such as these that have added up to one quarter of a billion dollars being shaved off utility bills.
With more than 940,000 Energy Star approved homes built to date – and more than 100,000 in 2008 alone – the popularity is growing.
“Even in a difficult market, the interest in Energy Star qualified homes keeps rising. We’re helping builders and home-buyers to protect the environment, safeguard our health, and move the country into a low-carbon energy future,” she said.
That low -carbon future comes from a variety of factors. The 100,000 Energy Star homes built across the nation is equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 49,000 vehicles, saving 296,400,000 pounds of coal or planting 81,000 acres of trees.
How are all these benefits possible? Energy Star labeled homes must meet certain standards in insulation, windows, construction and ducts, heating and cooling, and the the use of appliances that also receive the star.
In addition, market share for Energy Star qualified homes was 20 percent or greater in 15 states in 2008, including Ariz., Colo., Conn., Hawaii, Iowa, Ky., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Texas, Utah, and Vt. Iowa led all states with 64 percent of the market being Energy Star labeled homes.
And while helping the environment, homeowners helped their wallets, locking in annual utility bill savings of more than $250 million!
Photo Credit: Dean Terry via flickr under Creative Commons License