Looking for a new home, but want to know how much energy it will use over its lifetime? If you’re in Oregon, you may be in luck. Energy Trust of Oregon, a nonprofit established to help Oregonians invest in renewable and energy efficiency, has created the Energy Performance Score (EPS) for new homes. Energy Trust suggests EPS is an MPG (miles per gallon) rating for the home. EPS, a voluntary labeling program, was established to help buyers of new homes understand how much energy a new home will use and how much the home will contribute to carbon emissions.
The goal of the EPS label, according to Energy Trust, is to quantify a home’s energy efficiency, it’s utility costs and environmental impact. The program also helps to document a house’s and identify it’s carbon footprint by purchasing renewable energy from utilities or other carbon offsets. EPS may be assessed for new homes, including those receiving certification from Earth Advantage, Energy Star, the USGBC’s LEED for Homes or other energy efficiency certifications, the organization says.
Energy Trust’s labeling system jumbo-sizes the EnergyGuide label found on many major appliances. The EnergyGuide label is required on many major appliances and shows consumers how much energy the product will use annually. The label places the appliance’s consumption on a scale relative to similar appliances and tells whether the appliance will use less or more energy than other like appliances and whether it will cost you more or less to use than other choices.
EPS basically takes all the available energy consumption information related to the home, including the energy used by its appliances, its size, heating and cooling systems, lighting, windows and doors, and insulation. And shows how many millions of BTUs (British Thermal Units) the home will use throughout the year. The usage of BTUs allows the system to show both how much electricity and how much gas the home should use on an annual basis. The system also measures the carbon emissions related to the home’s energy usage. Lower scores on both mean the house is more efficient.
Since EPS considers the size of the home, it differs from some other home-energy rating systems, like Passive House, which rewards larger homes because they can have more energy saving measures purely because of their size. EPS however, considers that smaller homes often use less energy overall when compared to larger homes. This means even without more efficient appliances, a smaller home may use less energy than a larger house.
EPS now is being used on for new homes in Oregon and is being piloted on existing homes in Washington states. Both Oregon and Washington are considering mandatory new home energy labeling programs. EPS coincides with the DOE’s goal of establishing a voluntary energy-efficient home rating standard. Such a standard could allow lenders to provide preferred financing options for energy-efficient homes.
Other organizations, including some utilities also are taking steps to help consumers reduce their use of energy, like Minnesota Power’s Pyramid of CONSERVATION.