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TEP Energy Smart Homes

Better built, better value.

In the market for a newly constructed home? Look for a TEP Energy Smart Home or ENERGY STAR-qualified neighborhood with high-performance homes that save you money and energy.

TEP Energy Smart Homes are designed and built to conserve energy and save you money. In cooperation with TEP, a number of Arizona builders are incorporating energy-saving features and building techniques in their new homes.

An energy-efficient home is a healthful home.

TEP Energy Smart Homes is a utility-sponsored program for energy-efficient new home construction, founded on integrated building science. The program emphasizes a whole-house approach to improving health, safety, comfort, durability, and energy efficiency. The program includes on-site inspections and field testing to verify that homes perform the way they were designed. Program standards are designed to focus solely on best building practices.

Energy-efficient homes provide more efficient, healthful, and comfortable living environments by treating the structure as a complete system, where every component must work in harmony. Energy-efficient homes also use fresh-air ventilation and pressure-management techniques that maintain better air quality and comfort. AND, a properly balanced heating and cooling system means maximum energy efficiency.

A systems approach to home construction.

The program uses a systems approach to home construction. The systems approach deals with health and safety, comfort, durability and energy efficiency. By integrating the latest information on building science, TEP has developed construction requirements that each home must meet to qualify. The quality assurance of a TEP Energy Smart Home can be found only through our building partners who proudly advertise the TEP Energy Smart Homes program.

Features

    TEP Energy Smart Homes provides:
  • The highest construction standards
  • Improved insulation
  • Mastic-sealed ductwork
  • High efficiency HVAC equipment
  • Combustion safety
  • Advanced diagnostic blower door testing
  • Efficient window systems
  • Properly-sized heating and cooling equipment
  • Controlled ventilation
  • Return air paths
  • Air and pressure balancing
  • Improved indoor air quality

Fact Sheets

    Here are ENERGY STAR fact sheets to help you find the right home:
  • Improved insulation – PDF 149 KB
    Properly installed insulation maximizes comfort and energy savings
  • High-efficiency air conditioning systems – PDF 179 KB
    Look for a SEER rating of 14.5 or higher for more comfort, less energy use and more durability
  • Tight construction and ducting – PDF 164 KB
    Fresh-air ventilation and pressure-management techniques maintain better air quality and comfort
  • Energy-efficient low-E windows – PDF 212 KB
    Get the right windows and you'll see the difference on your energy bills

Learn more »

Read Frequently Asked Questions about the TEP Energy Smart Homes program.

View information on the federal Energy Star program.

What is an Energy Star Home?

Homes that earn the ENERGY STAR must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR qualified homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC).

ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of energy-efficient features, such as effective insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and appliances. These features contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution.

Homebuyers across the country are increasingly interested in green building. When looking to build or buy a green home, energy efficiency is the place to start. That's because the energy used in homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and risks of global climate change. So, the less energy used, the less air pollution generated. And the easy way to make sure a new home is energy efficient is to look for the blue ENERGY STAR mark, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.

How do new homes earn the ENERGY STAR?

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making them more efficient than standard homes. Homes achieve this level of performance through a combination of energy–efficient improvements, including:

  • Effective insulation systems
  • High–performance windows
  • Tight construction and ducts
  • Efficient heating and cooling equipment
  • ENERGY STAR-qualified lighting and appliances

To ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines, third–party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater (or equivalent) is required. The Home Energy Rater works closely with the builder throughout the construction process to help determine the needed energy–saving equipment and construction techniques and conduct required on–site diagnostic testing and inspections to document that the home is eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR label.

Step 1 — Builder Chooses to Partner with ENERGY STAR

Through a Partnership Agreement with EPA, a builder agrees affix an ENERGY STAR label on homes that are independently verified to meet program guidelines and to build at least one ENERGY STAR qualified home every 12 months to maintain their partnership.  Through the Partnership Agreement process, the builder also selects a Home Energy Rater to work with to qualify their homes.

It is important for consumers to recognize that an ENERGY STAR builder partner does not necessarily build exclusively ENERGY STAR qualified homes.  Some builder partners offer ENERGY STAR in specific home models, subdivisions or developments, or as an upgrade option.  However, there are also many builders that have made a commitment to building 100% ENERGY STAR qualified homes across their entire operation and developers who require all ENERGY STAR construction in their developments.  To find participating builder partners in your area, visit the ENERGY STAR Partner Locator.

Step 2 — Builder Works with the Rater to Select Appropriate Energy–Efficient Home Features

The builder submits their architectural plans to their Home Energy Rater for review and analysis.  The Rater looks for key information on the plans to help the builder choose the best combination of energy–efficient features to ensure that the home will earn the ENERGY STAR label when constructed.  Some Raters rely on a prescriptive package of energy improvements developed by EPA, while other develop a customized approach for each home using specialized home energy modeling software.  Learn more about the different approaches to selecting features for ENERGY STAR qualified homes.

Step 3 — Builder Constructs Home and Rater Verifies Features and Performance

With the energy–efficient features selected, the builder then proceeds with construction of the home. Throughout the construction process, the Rater performs a number of inspections and diagnostic tests to verify the proper installation of the selected energy–efficient features and overall energy performance of the home. Learn more » about the home analysis and inspection process.

Sampling Protocol

Builders who have demonstrated an ability to consistently meet the ENERGY STAR guidelines may be eligible to have their homes verified using RESNET’s Sampling Protocol. Under that protocol, groups of homes that meet certain eligibility criteria can be qualified based on tests and inspections performed on a sample of the homes. For more information, see Chapter 6 of the Mortgage Industry National Home Rating Standards.

Step 4 — Rater Qualifies the Home as ENERGY STAR and Issues an ENERGY STAR Label

After the Rater completes the final inspection and determines that all requirements have been met, the Rater will provide the builder with an ENERGY STAR label, which is placed on the circuit breaker box of the home. This label provides the homeowner with documentation that the home is ENERGY STAR qualified, and includes the home address, builder name, Rater name, and date verified. Some builders may also provide a paper certificate or copy of the Home Energy Rating report.

ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of 'tried-and-true' energy-efficient features that contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution:

  1. Effective Insulation
    Properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics ensures even temperatures throughout the house, reduced energy use, and increased comfort.
  2. High-Performance Windows
    Energy-efficient windows employ advanced technologies, such as protective coatings and improved frames, to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer. These windows also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can discolor carpets and furnishings.
  3. Tight Construction and Ducts
    Sealing holes and cracks in the home's "envelope" and in heating and cooling duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility and maintenance.
  4. Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
    In addition to using less energy to operate, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can be quieter, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of the home. When properly installed into a tightly sealed home, this equipment won't have to work so hard to heat and cool the home.
  5. Efficient Products
    ENERGY STAR qualified homes may also be equipped with ENERGY STAR qualified products — lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines.
  6. Third-Party Verification
    With the help of independent Home Energy Raters, ENERGY STAR builder partners choose the most appropriate energy-saving features for their homes. Additionally, raters conduct onsite testing and inspections to verify the energy efficiency measures, as well as insulation, air tightness, and duct sealing details.

What are the benefits?

Home buying is complex enough without having to know all the details of energy-efficient construction. Instead, look for the government-backed ENERGY STAR label to easily identify homes that are truly energy efficient. Find the house of your dreams and enjoy peace of mind knowing that it also meets strict energy efficiency guidelines.

  • Lower ownership cost
    Compared with standard homes, ENERGY STAR qualified homes use substantially less energy for heating, cooling, and water heating-delivering $200 to $400 in annual savings. Over the average 7 to 8 years you may live in your home, this adds up to thousands of dollars saved on utility bills. Additional savings on maintenance can also be substantial. Financing your home purchase using an ENERGY STAR Mortgage or an energy efficient mortgage can also lead to savings.
  • Better performance
    Properly installed energy-efficient improvements deliver better protection against cold, heat, drafts, moisture, pollution, and noise. An energy-efficient home helps ensure consistent temperatures between and across rooms, improved indoor air quality, and greater durability.
  • Smart investment
    To date, more than 8,500 home builders have partnered with EPA to construct more than 1 million ENERGY STAR qualified homes. The trend is clear. By choosing a home with the ENERGY STAR label, you can be confident that it will have an increasingly valued feature when the time comes to sell.
  • Environmental protection
    Did you know that your home can be a greater source of pollution than your car? In fact, 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide. Simply put, the less energy we use in our homes, the less air pollution we generate.

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the TEP Energy Smart Homes program, please email us at guaranteehome@tep.com or call 520-884-3616.

Paid for by Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customers and approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).