EPA ENERGY STAR certification for California homes

ENERGY STAR® certified homes are designed and built better from the ground up. HERS Raters can inspect, test and certify ENERGY STAR homes through CHEERS, an EPA recognized Home Certifying Organization.





ENERGY STAR certified homes in California

ENERGY STAR homes save energy, save money, and help protect the environment. A California ENERGY STAR certified home meets the California ENERGY STAR requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These requirements include:

  • Energy modeled savings A compliance margin of 10%+ or delta EDR of 3+ points calculated by CEC approved compliance software.
  • High-performance components – Energy efficient windows, insulation, and HVAC equipment are installed and verified in ENERGY STAR homes.
  • Designed systems – Equipment and ductwork are sized and installed correctly to maximize comfort and performance. Ventilation and filtration systems are calibrated to reduce indoor air pollutants.
  • Independent verification Detailed insulation, air barrier, HVAC equipment, duct leakage, and exhaust air inspections are performed by HERS Raters to verify the ENERGY STAR Design Review and Field checklists.


Why should HERS Raters provide ENERGY STAR
verification services to the builders?

Third party verification is a central component of the ENERGY STAR program and gives homebuyers confidence that their new homes are energy efficient.

Partnering with ENERGY STAR is an opportunity for HERS Raters to expand their service offerings beyond providing Title 24 inspections or individual performance tests (e.g., blower door tests). HERS Raters can become an invaluable asset to their builder clients and provide guiding value throughout the ENERGY STAR process.

Why participate in ENERGY STAR through CHEERS?

Several good reasons!

  • CHEERS automatically runs the project energy file (CF1R) through CBECC-Res to verify a 10%+ compliance margin or a delta EDR of 3+ points. Otherwise, the builder or energy consultant needs to verify this with a separate energy simulation. Save your builder time & money!
  • All of the ENERGY STAR Rater checklists are easily completed through the CHEERS Registry. They are stored and available to send to your builder at any time.
  • ENERGY STAR training specific to California HERS Raters will be available soon through CHEERS!
  • CHEERS is also an approved EPA WaterSense HCO, making CHEERS your one-stop-shop for EPA efficiency programs in California.

ENERGY STAR documentation and reporting


CHEERS provides a central location for California ENERGY STAR documentation. HERS Raters record their ENERGY STAR inspection and verification information within the CHEERS registry. At completion, an ENERGY STAR certification PDF package is available for download and handoff to the builder containing:

The home’s ENERGY STAR certificate summarizing energy performance and building efficiency features.

Completed Rater Design Review and Rater Field checklists.

Results from the automated CBECC-Res energy run verifying the home achieves a 10%+ compliance margin or delta EDR of 3+ points.

CHEERS reports all completed ENERGY STAR certified homes to the EPA on a quarterly basis.

California’s top production builders verify their ENERGY STAR projects through CHEERS

Frequently asked questions

ENERGY STAR is a joint partnership program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that helps businesses and individuals save energy and protect the environment through energy-efficient products, homes, and buildings.

The ENERGY STAR program was established by EPA in 1992, under the authority of the Clean Air Act Section 103(g). Section103(g) of the Clean Air Act directs the Administrator to “conduct a basic engineering research and technology program to develop, evaluate, and demonstrate non–regulatory strategies and technologies for reducing air pollution.”

In 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act. Section 131 of the Act amends Section 324 (42 USC 6294) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and “established at the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency a voluntary program to identify and promote energy–efficient products and buildings in order to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security, and reduce pollution through voluntary labeling of or other forms of communication about products and buildings that meet the highest energy efficiency standards.”

Any single-family home or unit in a multifamily building can earn the ENERGY STAR label. This includes traditional site-constructed homes as well as log homes, modular homes, systems-built homes (e.g., insulated concrete forms, structurally insulated panels), and HUD-code manufactured homes. EPA has developed three complementary ENERGY STAR programs to provide certification to newly constructed residential homes and buildings:

  1. Single-family homes, duplexes, and townhouses can earn the ENERGY STAR through the Single-Family New Homes program. Visit the ENERGY STAR Single-Family New Homes program webpage for information about program requirements.
  2. Multifamily units/buildings and townhouses, can earn the ENERGY STAR through the Multifamily New Construction program. Visit the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction program webpage for information about program requirements.
  3. Manufactured homes can earn the ENERGY STAR through the Certified Manufactured Homes program. Visit the ENERGY STAR Manufactured New Homes program webpage for information about program requirements.

Please review the ENERGY STAR Decision Tree to determine which program is appropriate for your project.

Verification of a home’s energy efficiency by a third-party rater is mandatory for earning the ENERGY STAR label. There are two paths to certify a home to earn the ENERGY STAR. The Prescriptive Path is based on a predefined package of improvements, while the Performance Path is based on a customized package of upgrades. The California Program Requirements define the core energy efficiency specifications for both the Prescriptive and Performance Paths. See the California Program Requirements.

As part of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, the Section 45L Tax Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes has been updated and extended.

For homes and units acquired on or after January 1, 2023, the base level tax credit will be specifically tied to ENERGY STAR certification for single-family, manufactured, and multifamily homes. This tax credit has been extended through 2032. Details are below:

Single-Family New Homes – $2,500 available for ENERGY STAR certified homes.

  • January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2024: ENERGY STAR Single-Family New Home National Version 3.1 (or the regional program requirements applicable to the home).
  • January 1, 2025 – December 31, 2032: ENERGY STAR Single-Family New Homes National Version 3.2 (or the regional program requirements applicable to the home).

Manufactured Homes – $2,500 available for ENERGY STAR certified manufactured homes meeting the most recent ENERGY STAR Manufactured New Homes program requirements (currently Version 2, with Version 2.1 currently proposed to be implemented in May 2023).

Multifamily – $500 available for ENERGY STAR certified multifamily units meeting the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction National program requirements (or the regional program requirements) applicable to the dwelling unit, as specified in Section 13304. A larger tax credit is available for multifamily projects that meet prevailing wage requirements.

A larger tax credit is available for homes that are certified to DOE’s Zero Energy Ready (ZERH) Program, which requires ENERGY STAR certification as a prerequisite.

Home Certification Organizations (HCOs) are independent oversight organizations recognized by EPA to implement the ENERGY STAR program. The EPA has a formal application / review process through which an applicant must demonstrate that it meets the program’s eligibility criteria and has the capability, competencies, and proper controls to implement an ENERGY STAR certification program.

CHEERS is recognized by the EPA as an ENERGY STAR HCO in California.

For builders and homes participating in the ENERGY STAR program, Raters complete the electronic ENERGY STAR verification checklists in the CHEERS Registry. When complete, the Rater downloads an ENERGY STAR certification package and ENERGY STAR label. CHEERS reports ENERGY STAR verified homes to the EPA on a quarterly basis.

HERS Raters field verify items on an ENERGY STAR checklist in addition to their normal Title-24 testin. Generating an ENERGY STAR certificate is easy. To get started:

  1. Sign into your CHEERS account
  2. Navigate to the project you wish to ENERGY STAR certify & click the blue ESR button
  3. Input and verify the information – the form will show a green Pass status when complete
  4. Sign the ENERGY STAR form
  5. Download the ENERGY STAR certification package

Review these steps in the tutorial video here.

Upload the 2019 XML energy file normally used for CA energy code compliance. CHEERS automatically compares that file to the ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements via CBECC 2016. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Within the CHEERS app, choose the project type you wish to upload from the drop down menu
  2. Click import and choose the XML file(s) you would like to upload
  3. Check the ENERGY STAR box
  4. Click “Sign & Complete”

Review the steps in the YouTube video tutorial.