How to Reduce Heating Costs


Building the Energy Star Way

Winter is just around the corner and just about everyone is concerned with sharply increasing heating costs. With this in mind, D|A wanted to provide you with information on the Home Energy Rating Systems or (HERS). These new energy efficient design and construction standards will decrease energy consumption, and improve comfort and indoor-air quality within any home you are planning to build or remodel.

What is the HERS Index?

A home energy rating involves an analysis of a home's construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home's plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficient software package to perform an energy analysis of the home's design. This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index. Upon completion of the plan review, the rater will work with the builder to identify the energy efficient improvements needed to ensure the house will meet ENERGY STAR performance guidelines. The rater then conducts onsite inspections, typically including a blower door test (to test the leakiness of the house) and a duct test (to test the leakiness of the ducts). Results of these tests, along with inputs derived from the plan review, are used to generate the HERS Index score for the home. For more information, visit the RESNET Web site What the HERS Index and Energy Star Brand Means ENERGY STAR is the national symbol of energy efficiency, recognized by more than 60 percent of the American public. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved about $10 billion on their energy bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 20 million cars. ENERGY STAR is administered by EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For more information, visit

Benefits to the Homeowner

Lower Utility Bills - Energy-efficient homes cost less to heat and cool. Energy related improvements will provide immediate dollars on a monthly basis in terms of lower utility bills. You can save 30-40% on your heating and cooling costs. Comfortable Rooms - Eliminating cold spots or overheated rooms makes a home comfortable. Many homeowners also report reduced dust and more comfortable humidity levels in winter and summer.

Environmental Benefits - A more efficient home produces less pollution. The average home is responsible for twice the air pollution than the average car. If one household in 10 used ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment, the change would prevent 17 billion pounds of air pollution and save about $1 billion in electricity costs. An average of 23,000 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted annually in each American home. For every kilowatt hour of electricity saved in your home, you prevent about 2 1/2 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted, which is the gas thought to be primarily responsible for global warming. You also prevent sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, gases that create smog, from being released. Recently, DeStefano Architects worked in conjunction with GDS Associated, and engineering and consulting firm, in completing and Energy Analysis of a home we designed in New Castle, New Hampshire. The home was designed and specified to meet the Energy Star Home Energy Rating for compliance with the HERS program. In addition, the home may meet requirements for a Federal Tax Credit as well as being eligible for the PSNH HEATSMART program, a program which can reduce an electric bill by as much as 25%. For more information regarding the PSNH HEATSMART , click here or call 1-800-622-7764.

In developing home plans and specifying materials for either new construction or remodeling projects, D|A considers multiple critical factors for improving building performance. Listed below are a few specification standards we at D|A have initiated to help meet energy efficiency requirements:

Seal around all windows and doors using a low expansion insulating foam Seal Framing members (i.e. bottom plates to floor decking) using adhesive or caulking Caulk other conventionally framed members, such as between double or triple studs Seal around ALL penetrations (i.e. ceilings between heated spaced and unheated attics) All heating and cooling ductwork must be sealed (using a mastic compound) and be located within the thermal envelope of the building (i.e. no ductwork in unconditioned basements or attics) Avoid fiberglass batt insulation in ceilings - use blow-in cellulose product in walls, sloped ceilings and floors above garages and exterior areas. DeStefano Architects prides itself on providing the latest design and construction techniques to meet the challenges associated with achieving comfortable design with energy efficiency and reduced overall costs

For additional information on building the "Energy Star Way," call Lisa DeStefano at 603-431-8701 or visit our website at

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