You’ve seen the sticker thousands of times on your own appliances and on those for sale in retail stores. Among the aisles and aisles of appliances there is one universal name, ENERGY STAR.

You probably already know that the ENERGY STAR sticker displayed on appliances shows you how much you can save annually by purchasing that appliance, but what exactly is ENERGY STAR? There’s a lot more to this label than just energy savings.

The Birth of a Star

The ENERGY STAR program was born of the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 103(g) in conjunction with the Depart of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program stipulated that the CAA administrator create a program that would help reduce energy usage for consumers and reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.

According to, the purpose of the program is to “conduct a basic engineering research and technology program to develop, evaluate, and demonstrate nonregulatory strategies and technologies for reducing air pollution.” As of December 2013, the ENERGY STAR program has saved consumers more than $295 billion on utility bills alone and prevented 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Standards of Efficiency

To achieve these elevated energy savings, the program, which is a volunteer certification for companies and their products, implements third party testing and certification criteria within an EPA approved laboratory. Within the more than 70 categories are item specific specifications to ensure the highest possible standards of energy efficiency and quality that an appliance model must meet before earning the ENERGY STAR label. Qualifying appliances run the gamut from microwaves to geothermal heat pumps to residential and commercial buildings.

Investing Green Can Put More Green in Your Pocket

From 2005 to 2015, consumer energy costs increased by 34 percent. Those costs continue to rise and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of these expenses. As a result, it is important for you to be aware of energy efficiency in your properties and deals as well.

In 2014, The Demand Institute surveyed more than 10,000 households about their current living situations and what they believe is important in the home. The institute found that energy efficiency was important to 71 percent of the respondents, and only 35 percent were currently satisfied with their home’s efficiency.

With an energy outlook like that, an investor can easily and relatively inexpensively make a property look far more attractive to both renters and buyers by investing in the ubiquitous ENERGY STAR label. Installing several of the less expensive items to improve energy efficiency throughout a home enables you to rest easy, knowing your tenants (and you) will enjoy the reduced energy costs throughout their occupancy. If the home is sold, you can take pride in knowing you are selling a home that is as efficient as possible while, at the same time,  often enjoying an elevated sales price.

Going Green is Easy

In a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), respondents were asked how valuable they find promoting energy efficiency in their properties. In an overwhelming response, 71 percent said it was either very valuable or somewhat valuable.

Perhaps as a result of this sentiment, Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) recently began providing sustainable (green) data fields to be filled in when listing a property for sale. Fewer than one in every five MLSs have opted not to include these fields, providing a clear indicator that sustainability in a property is becoming a popular necessity. 

Integrating green or sustainable features to your properties doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. Just do your due diligence to make sure your upgrades are sustainable, energy-saving, and easily recognizable. Understanding the ENERGY STAR system will help with all three because ENERGY STAR provides a common way of communicating this information between buyers, sellers, renters, and owners. Now that you know exactly what that label means, optimize this knowledge to shine brighter than your market competition.

Everything from windows to toaster ovens may be ENERGY STAR certified. Be sure you understand how each item’s unique certification affects property values rather than buying the label blindly.

The Details on ENERGY STAR Certification

The ENERGY STAR certified home label might appear small, a mere three by five inches, but it stands for something really big. That little label means that a home has undergone a rigorous process of independent inspections and testing to ensure it meets strict U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

Some of those testing processes include the evaluation of the following systems.


This system ensures, air tight seals, properly installed insulation, and high-performance windows. All three facets work cooperatively to create high comfort levels, improve overall durability, reduce maintenance costs over time, and lower monthly utility bills.


Properly Installed Insulation

Quality over quantity makes a big difference. Proper placement avoids gaps in the insulation and prevents air from bypassing it through building techniques designed to reduce heat flow through a home’s framing.

High-Performance Windows

These windows keep the cold out in winter and heat out in summer. They may have protective coatings, improved frames and even gas between the panes of glass.


These systems are engineered and installed to create an environment rich in indoor air quality, noise reduction, overall better humidity and moisture control to increase your comfort levels.



Properly installed systems deliver premium performance, use less energy, often include extended warranty coverage, and reduce noise output.

Certified Installation

ENERGY STAR requires a trained HVAC professional design and install on all heating and cooling systems in homes that wish to be awarded the ENERGY STAR certification.

House-wide mechanical ventilation

Create a better overall living environment by having a constant source of filtered air to reduce indoor air pollutants.


This durable package of best-building practices and materials protects roofs, walls and foundations from water damage.

Requirements for Certification

Proper selection of materials and storage help to prevent water and mold damage in materials.

Tested building practices such as the use of flashing, moisture barriers and the use of heavy duty membranes effectively drain water from roofs, walls and away from foundations.


ENERGY STAR homes boast ENERGY STAR appliances. Certified lighting, appliances and fans help to reduce monthly utility bills.


Advanced Lighting

ENERGY STAR-certified bulbs and fixtures come in all different shapes and sizes. They can be purchased at your favorite home improvement store.

ENERGY STAR Certified Appliances

Household appliances account for close to 11 percent of an average home’s energy use. So a comprehensive, certified appliance package will improve appliance performance, durability, quality and of course, reduction in overall energy costs. These appliances include certified dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, ceiling fans, and ventilation fans.

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  • Heather Elwing

    Heather A. Elwing has a bachelor degree in public relations and journalism minoring is global sustainability. She is a licensed Realtor in Missouri working on her GREEN designation. She has passion for education within the real estate investing space, sustainable building and living.

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