Know Your EPS
A clear view of home energy performance
Today, more than ever, homebuyers and builders are placing high value on energy efficiency and carbon footprint. Efficient homes offer superior performance, lower operating costs and a reduced environmental impact. But how do you compare newly built homes based on their energy consumption? Say hello to EPSTM.
EPS, brought to you by Energy Trust of Oregon, is an energy performance score that rates the efficiency of a home and measures it against similar-sized homes in Oregon. With EPS, the lower the score the more efficient the home. The score can range from zero to over 200, with zero being the best possible rating.
For a better idea of EPS and how it works, check out our sample EPS sheet.
From assessing monthly utility costs to providing an estimated carbon emission score, EPS helps you make informed decisions when comparing new homes.
Check out our informative video to learn more about EPS.
Look behind the walls
If you’re in the market for an energy-efficient home, our Smart Homebuyer page is a great place to start. You’ll find more information on EPS and a variety of resources to assist you in evaluating homes based on energy performance.
How does a home receive an EPS?
To determine a newly built home’s EPS, a third-party verifier analyzes the home's features and construction techniques and tests performance for factors such as air leakage and duct tightness. EPS is a voluntary rating that builders request before construction.
If you recently bought a newly built home that did not receive an EPS, click here to learn more about how you can get an EPS for your home.
EPS works with home certifications
Many homes that have earned an EPS also have certifications such as Earth Advantage®, ENERGY STAR® or LEED for Homes®. Learn about the different certifications to make shopping easier.
Look for these common features in homes with low scores
Builders use a range of strategies to boost energy efficiency, minimize energy costs and reduce environmental impacts. The following features can be found in homes wih a low EPS:
Properly installed floor, ceiling and wall insulation can help keep heat inside during winter and outside during summer. Insulation is given an “R-Value” rating that reflects its resistance to heat flow; the greater the number, the better the insulating quality. EPS homes require an R-value of at least R-49 for ceilings, R-23 for walls and R-30 for floors. Look for the R-Value on the EPS sheet sheet to find the home’s level of insulation.
The rate of heat loss in windows is indicated by the U-Value. The lower the U-Value, the greater a window's resistance to heat flow. This results in a more comfortable home and greater energy efficiency. EPS homes require windows with a value of at least U-0.30
The shell of the home is the barrier between indoor and outdoor air. It consists of framing, insulation, sheetrock and windows. Energy-efficient homes are framed in such a way that all extraneous lumber in the shell has been eliminated. This helps save resources and reduces potential areas for heat loss. Advanced framing improves the overall performance of the wall to resist heat transfer. In addition, advanced framing can reduce the amount of lumber needed by up to 22 percent.
When a home is built tightly to control air leakage, and features properly installed insulation, its energy use can be reduced by as much as 20 percent. This tighter construction also enables the home to maintain consistent temperatures throughout, and works to lessen humidity, indoor air pollutants and noise.
Newly built homes that have received an EPS are required to receive a blower door test to assess the tightness of the home. This test measures the home’s ACH, or air changes per hour – the number of times that the complete air volume of a home is exchanged for outside air each hour. A low number denotes a well-sealed home with fewer air leaks, resulting in increased energy efficiency overall. Typically, a newly built EPS home averages 5.0-0.0 ACH.
Properly sealed ducts
A tightly built home matched with an approved ventilation system reduces unwanted air exchanges between the house, crawl space, attic and the outdoors. This keeps the air in the home cleaner, helping to reduce allergens and potential mold. Each EPS home is reviewed by a third-party verifier to ensure it is well-sealed with improved ventilation and moisture control.
Efficient appliances and lighting
ENERGY STAR® certified appliances use up to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models. Compact fluorescent lighting uses up to 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lighting. The dishwasher and 80 percent of all lighting must be ENERGY STAR certified for a home to earn an EPS.
Efficient water heating
In an average home, water heating may account for up to 30 percent of a home’s energy consumption depending on user behavior. Water heater efficiency is measured by Energy Factors or EF. Higher EF ratings indicate greater energy efficiency.
Efficient heating, cooling and ventilation
Energy-efficient furnaces, air conditioners and other equipment can lower energy bills, enhance comfort and improve indoor air quality.
The energy efficiency of appliances and mechanical equipment is measured in different terms, including Energy Factor, EF; Annual Fuel Utilization, AFUE; Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, HSPF; Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, SEER; and more. Reference the list below to find brief descriptions of these terms and the information they provide:
- Gas furnace efficiency is measured using Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, AFUE, a laboratory-derived efficiency rating for heating appliances. A higher AFUE indicates a more energy-efficient model.
- Heat pumps are fueled by electricity and provide heating and cooling to a home. Heat pump efficiency is rated using a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, HSPF. A higher HSPF indicates a more energy-efficient model.
- Air conditioner efficiency is rated using Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the cooling.
Solar panels use the sun to generate electricity to help meet the home’s energy needs. This reduces the amount of electricity you need to buy from your utility provider. Learn more about solar electric.
Solar water heating
Solar water heating systems use energy from the sun to pre-heat water. They require minimal roof space and are ideal for installation on new construction. Learn more about solar water heating.
Still have questions? Call us at 1.866.368.7878.