Northwest Energy Star Program Provides Insights Into Efficiency

March 26, 2015

Grow Community

The Northwest Energy Star program is tracking the energy use of green homes for 13 months after they are occupied in an attempt to learn more about what features and technology enhance energy efficiency.

The homes in this pilot program, begun in late 2012, are at least 30% more efficient that similar homes built to code.  Many spend $200 or less to heat their home throughout the year.

The program is being developed by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), a non-profit organization working to effect market transformation through the acceleration and adoption of energy efficient products, services and practices.

NEEA is an alliance of more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations working on behalf of more than 13 million energy consumers.  The program is being conducted in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

“It is important to PSE to create awareness among our customers about the benefits of energy efficient homes,” said Bob Stolarski, director of Customer Energy Management for Puget Sound Energy, one of the utilities involved in the program.

“We can help our community and builders enter a new stage in home energy performance, leading to lower energy use and, therefore, lower energy costs for our customers.”

Homes must comply with the national Energy Star requirements, as developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which include being at least 15% more energy efficient than local code.  A number of energy efficient features and strategies are used to achieve this level of home efficiency:

  • Advanced air-sealing techniques help create a tighter home envelope
  • Advanced framing (a framing technique where studs are spaced farther apart to reduce the amount of lumber required)
  • More efficient windows
  • Increased insulation
  • High efficiency heating and cooling strategies, using innovative technologies, such as heat recovery ventilators and ductless heat pumps

These strategies lead to homes that are considerably more efficient than a standard home, with optimal comfort levels, better indoor air quality and dramatically reduced energy costs.

The pilot is conducted in partnership with a select group of builders across the Northwest who are dedicated to building better homes.  “The joy of doing what I do is seeing the customers ecstatic about their home when they first see it,” said participating builder Scott Bergford, founder and president of Scott Homes, Inc.

“Many current or future homeowners don’t think they can live in a house that can be so comfortable and so energy-efficient at the same time.  Through this pilot program, and thanks to support from utilities like Puget Sound Energy and programs like Northwest Energy Star Homes, I’m helping community members recognize that they too can fulfill their dreams of living in a super energy-efficient home.  A yearly heating bill of only $200 can, in fact, be their reality.”

Source and Photos: PR Newswire, Northwest Energy Star



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.