Home Builder FAQs

What is SMECO’s ENERGY STAR® for new homes policy on modular home builders?

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.

How do the performance milestones for builders work?

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.
How does a HERS rater determine if a home qualifies for the ENERGY STAR®?

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.

How much money will consumers save on utility bills in an ENERGY STAR® qualified home?

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.

How will my company benefit from selling ENERGY STAR® qualified homes?

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.