Tier 2 Energy Star ratings

loves2readAugust 19, 2006

The builder we are planning to use for new home construction promotes his going from Level 1 to Level 2 Energy Star rating in his construction process. Can anyone point me to a site or information that establishes the difference between Tier 1 and 2 and if the change to Tier 2 is mandatory or optional and what elements qualify a home for Tier 2 Energy Star rating---i have tried to Google it and gets lots of hits but nothing specific for what I am trying to find

He has given us some information about his "standard" package--and we can tell that his models are not built to the "standard" so there are definite upgrades to consider in construction pricing. We have contacted homeowners he has built for--I also contacted some NOT on the list he gave us as a random sampling---all of them were extremely positive about their homes and the building process with him/his company. Not many of them knew too much about the actual physical construction--the bones of the house-- however--I felt like my questions were not something they considered--they just liked the look of his homes--which attracted us as well. so I thought I might get some info on Tier 1 and 2 construction here....

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Texas has specific requirements for a house to be labeled energy efficient. Minimum standards in duct insulation were increased last year. R6 is the minimum today. Another issue that does not wotk in Texas is the minimum 750 sqft per ton requirement. Most new homes will not cool using that specification. Furthermore, if a smaller furnace is used, that fits the smaller coil, the airflow will be inadequate to cool at any temperature.

The State of Texas has a web site for standards in residential construction.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 3:22AM
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Bob, I appreciate the fact that you offered a response but when I went to the web link I was really no further along than before---the information on the site is the same broad level, non-specific information I have found on many sites...
---I am looking for a simple comparison that shows the differences between Tier 1 and Tier 2 ratings in Energy Star residential construction levels--I understand this rating is based on the energy efficiency of the home making it better than the state standard and thus individual ratings vary because of square footage, home design and location, number of windows, etc.
But was looking for something that compared the two/three tiers like
if is there a difference in say the SEER ratings for HVAC---in R factors in insulation or types of insulation required--what about the window efficiency and the emmission coatings---is Tier 2 now the "standard" for builders who want to receive the Energy Star compliant rating---
I believe that Tier 3 is better than 50% more efficient than state standard and Tier 2 is 30-40% more efficient--it is just how that efficiency is achieve I am trying to find out...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 4:04AM
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Sorry about the link. I could not use Acrobat, and thought the 2 classes would explain the new rules. The only info I have heard is about increased insulation, and better efficiencys in Air Conditioning. The problem with the HVAC is to meet the standard, the system will be severly undersized for air flow. Equipment is not made to handle 750sqft per ton. Blowers are not large enough.

I did find this link

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 1:18AM
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Is the tier system state specific? EPA changed the energy Star standards as of July 1 to better reflect changes in the IECC code as well introduce thermal bypass standards. The scoring has changed also. It is not as easy to qualify as it was in the past.

The higher efficient equipment shouldn't impact air flow. Equipment efficincy increases, but sizing is determined by the heating and cooling load. Systems are often oversized to compensate for poor duct work which is a product of poor system design and/or workmanship.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 10:48PM
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I think Energy Star ratings vary in several ways....the type of R levels required for Energy Star rating levels can vary even within a particular state depending on its size and environmental factors...I found a chart for Texas with like 9 different zones showing the difference between levels of energy efficiency with the R ratings for wall/attic/basement insulation levels and the window glass factors---which I will take when we meet w/builder to discuss plans...it did not address things like type of fireplace used (if any) or heating system or appliance or lighting efficiency/electrical usage or total number of windows or their locations which I kniow has an impact on the overall energy efficiency..Our buidler said that the few times he has not gotten the Energy Star rating for home it was because the buyers design called for too many windows and self-defeated the rating score--and they kept the windows

Regarding proper design of HVAC system--that seems to be one of most significant design points that can be really screwed up if not done specifically for house in question....regarding the vent system, our Builder does use the mastic sealant for his ductwork and tells us that they seal the tyvek wrap and use foam to insulated openings like the plumbing lines' entrances ...

Does anyone know if the Energy Star rating take unusual items into consideration for individual homes---like fireplaces or pellet stoves/radient heating vs conventional heating/any extra electrical usage like powering a water well pump for instance or having any solar powered items or things like shingles vs metal roofing when making the energy star rating?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 12:39PM
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tier one 20% better than standard
tier 2 30 to 40%
tier 3 50% which gets you to the
$2,000 tax credit for the builder


note that builder's often call their homes
energy star, but unless the home is certified
by a home energy rater that it may or may not
be energy efficient. the rater's job is to verify
efficiency of the home.

in my area we do not have builder's that are
certified to determine the efficiency of the
home they have just built, an independent third
unbiased party is required for verification & submittal
to energy star.

the software we use in my state does allow all
of the inputs you mention in your last post.
it is up to the rater to build specific information
into the program's library to compare different
upgrades. some upgrades are included but climate
specific upgrades require additional info to be
added to program.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 4:02PM
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My builder does not do his own rating---and I don't think that is allowed in TX or any state--there is third party inspector sent out to inspect each house and do evaluation.

At our first meeting I was asking about his Energy Star rating and different inspectors, and he said that the city inspectors are no problem but the energy star inspectors are much more picky in evaluating ratings--they do the vacuum test and rate the HVAC system with acutal window placement and windows efficiency. He said that in the past if a house failed to get the Energy Star rating, it was usually because the home plan had too many windows to make the efficiency rating. Almost all of his homes are subdivision built which means they can't all have optimum orientation to the sun. Most of them seem to have owner-input on design so the window count probably has owner-driven wishes for natural light or esthetics not necessarily energy efficiency as primary goal.

He said that in his opinion it was currently too expensive to do what it would take to construct a stick-built house for Level 3 Energy Star efficiency--that most people would not pay the price per sq foot it would take for such a long payout--in some cases maybe 10 years plus, that there was a function/price ratio that he tried to meet with what he did -- like using radiant barrier roofing, but having a 16 SEER AC unit was not worth the extra money nor using geo-thermal or foam insulation instead of a quality cellulose job with attention to foaming cracks and making sure all seams were sealed---

While many of the builders in this area are starting to encorporate things like radiant barrier sheathing on roofs and the side walls, few strive for Level 2 Energy Star (and most people don't know there is a difference). Is there any way to contact an Energy Star rater for specific information--I know there are web sites to locate home inspectors, some of whom are liscensed engineers---can I call my unility companry and get info about where to get Energy Star inspector information?
Guess I can do that Monday...

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 6:32PM
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