Many of today’s home buyers are concerned about rising energy costs and environmental issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions and their home’s carbon footprint. SMECO can help you provide your customers with a home that helps them do their part for the environment—while they’re saving money—when you build a home to higher standards for energy efficiency. By partnering with SMECO’s ENERGY STAR® for New Homes program, your company can distinguish itself as a leader in energy-efficient construction and environmental stewardship.
Build Your Business with Energy-Efficient Construction
Today’s prospective homebuyers are part of a new generation concerned about rising energy costs and environmental impacts. By partnering with SMECO’s ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Program, your company can meet the needs of the new generation by becoming a leader in energy-efficient construction. SMECO’s ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Program works to increase buyer demand for, and builder supply of, new homes that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines.
How to Participate
As a participating home builder, you will benefit from financial incentives, technical support and training, and marketing support to help you gain recognition as an ENERGY STAR® builder.
To be eligible for incentives, homes must be new, separately metered, have electric service provided by SMECO, be completed within 12 months of the online application submittal, and must utilize 90% LED lighting, have all required inspections.
Builders who construct homes in SMECO’s service area that meet or exceed the EPA ENERGY STAR® for New Homes guidelines can receive the following incentives*:
For Homes permitted on or after July 1, 2020:
- Low-Rise Multifamily: $400 for ENERGY STAR® Version 3.1 certified unit with 100% LED Lighting
- 2-on-2 Condo: $550 for ENERGY STAR® Version 3.1 certified unit with 100% LED Lighting
- Townhouse: $750 for ENERGY STAR® Version 3.1 certified unit with 100% LED Lighting
- Single Family: $1250 for ENERGY STAR® Version 3.1 certified unit with 100% LED Lighting
- Smart Thermostat: $75 for ENERGY STAR® certified thermostat
- Air Conditioner: $200 for >15.3 SEER Air Conditioner
- Heat Pump: $350 for >15.3 SEER and 8.5 HSPF Heat Pump
- Heat Pump Water Heater: $500 for >3.0 UEF Heat Pump Water Heater
*A $100 smart thermostat incentive is also available with any ENERGY STAR® New Homes Financial Incentives listed.
Home Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for incentives, homes must meet the following criteria:
- Be separately metered
- Have electrical service provided by SMECO
- Be completed within 12 months of application submittal
- Pass all required ENERGY STAR® inspections
To apply for incentives for homes that meet these criteria, complete the Online Home Builder Application.
Work With a HERS Rater
Submit your house plans to a Home Energy Rater (HERS). Your Rater will work with you to make sure your design will be accepted in SMECO’s ENERGY STAR® program and you will be eligible for financial incentives.
See HERS Raters further down this page for a list of participating raters of new ENERGY STAR® homes.
Home Registration System
After your Homebuilder Application is approved, a builder profile will be created in the Ekotrope home registration and submission portal. This will allow your HERS rater to select your company for homes ready for registration or submission. Login credentials will be provided to your HERS rater to register and submit homes through Ekotrope.
Home inspections help to make sure that new ENERGY STAR® homes will perform as expected, helping to save energy and save money for homeowners. Either the builder or the HERS rater can coordinate the necessary home inspections to meet SMECO program requirements.
Home Builder FAQs
Partnering with ENERGY STAR® distinguishes builders as leaders in energy-efficient construction and environmental stewardship. The ENERGY STAR® name has become a valuable marketing tool as consumers trust ENERGY STAR®. As a builder, the easy way for you to demonstrate the energy efficiency of your new homes is with the blue ENERGY STAR mark, a U.S. government-backed symbol. Plus, SMECO will help you promote your ENERGY STAR®-qualified homes, thereby giving you a competitive advantage over non-participating builders in your market.
In Maryland, ENERGY STAR® qualified homes must be built to be at least 15% more energy efficient than the state code. Therefore, consumers can expect to save at least 15% on their energy usage compared to a home built just to code. However, we do not recommend quantifying the amount of money a consumer might save because utility costs depend upon many factors, such as the homeowner’s lifestyle.
Prior to construction, HERS Raters work with their builder clients to conduct a plan analysis to determine the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures for the home. At the pre-drywall stage, a thermal bypass visual inspection is conducted to ensure that the air and thermal barriers in the home are continuous and complete. Toward the end of construction, the HERS Rater inspects the home and performs diagnostic tests (e.g., blower door and duct blaster) to assess the home’s energy performance. The HERS Rater then incorporates the results of the inspections and diagnostic tests into the plan analysis software that determines the home’s HERS Index. A home with a HERS Index of 85 or lower qualifies for the ENERGY STAR® rating.
For more information about the national specifications for ENERGY STAR for New Homes, please visit ENERGY STAR® for the New Home Industry.
Your HERS Rater will work with you to identify problems that are preventing the home from meeting the ENERGY STAR guidelines. Once these problems are addressed and corrected, the home can be re-tested.
For a list of other ENERGY STAR Homes FAQs, visit ENERGY STAR®'s FAQ page.
In accordance with the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008 a small monthly energy efficiency charge is currently included on monthly bills for residential accounts to help pay for these programs.
Participating homebuilders are expected to meet a number of performance milestones. This milestone system is designed to provide goals and a systematic, quarterly process through which a SMECO Account Manager can ensure that homes under a given application are moving forward as projected. If a builder and the SMECO Account Manager determine that not all the builder’s homes will be completed within the 1-year deadline, the system provides the opportunity to enroll delayed homes under a new application at SMECO’s discretion.
Milestones from the date of application submittal:
- 1 month—Must have registered homes for which permits have been pulled in the online program reporting system, identified HERS Rater(s) in the online system, and signed the EPA ENERGY STAR® for Homes Partnership Agreement.
- 3 months—At least 10% of your total committed homes should be invoiced on the program’s online system.
- 6 months—At least 40% of your total committed homes should be invoiced on the program’s online system.
- 9 months—At least 70% of your total committed homes should be invoiced on the program’s online system.
- 12 months—100% of your total committed homes should be invoiced on the program’s online system.
SMECO’s ENERGY STAR® for New Homes program welcomes applications from modular home builders following ENERGY STAR® guidelines. However, no modular homes purchased prior to March 1, 2010, will be accepted into the program. Any modular home selected for Quality Assurance under the program will receive in-field testing during assembly as opposed to the rough-in and final inspections conducted for stick-built homes.
EmPOWER Maryland programs are funded by a charge on your energy bill. EmPOWER programs can help you reduce your energy consumption and save you money. Learn more about EmPOWER and how you can participate.