The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program recently released ENERGY STAR Version 6.0, which sets forth criteria that may make ENERGY STAR products too expensive for the average homeowner. For example, in Version 6.0, windows, skylights, and doors have to have a lower U-factor. The standards have dropped the U-factor from 0.30 to 0.27, which manufacturers in northern areas claim will require triple-paned windows, different frames, and increased costs. Studies show that replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR windows can save the average homeowner $146 to $501 annually. However, window and door industry representatives are concerned that the higher up-front costs of the new standards may make the products inaccessible. This year, a group of citizens, manufacturers, and retailers formed the Coalition for Home Energy Efficiency to enlist the public in a campaign to “save ENERGY STAR” by preventing the EPA from making new overly restrictive standards. EPA says the ENERGY STAR program is aimed at saving money and giving the industry the market flexibility to make more efficient products, and ENERGY STAR standards are adjusted to reflect the increased efficiency of the industry. Home energy use accounts for more than 25 percent of most consumers’ carbon footprints, while a recent study shows that owners of ENERGY STAR homes are less likely to default on their mortgages. Utility and electric company rebates and state and federal tax credits also help mitigate the up-front costs of purchasing ENERGY STAR products. | Read More