US loses opportunity with home energy efficiency

By Andrew McGlashen for the Daily Climate, January 25 2010

About 17 percent of new homes built in 2008 earned the Energy Star label. The proportion – which is expected to reach 20 percent when 2009's figures are tallied – marks a five-point increase from 2007 and "indicates such incredible success," said Sam Rashkin, national director of the program's section for homes.

Home energy use accounts for 16 percent of the United States' greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the EPA's gains, some 99 percent of American houses are "sick" – damp, drafty, dusty, noisy and expensive to heat and cool – and "could be made at least 30 percent more energy-efficient with highly cost-effective, tried-and-true energy-efficiency improvements," according to Rashkin.

The Energy Star program won't solve this. Energy Star is meant to reflect the cream of the housing stock, and thus, program officers say, will always represent a minority of American homes.

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