U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home Program


The U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program builds on the requirements of Energy Star for Homes Version 3 in order to give builders stringent guidelines that will help to make homes more energy-efficient and improve air quality. Zero Energy Ready Homes are often 40-50 percent more energy-efficient than typical new homes. Zero Energy Ready Homes are verified by a third party and rated for efficiency using a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score.

Zero Energy Ready Home Goals

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Program was designed to help builders develop homes that will last hundreds of years and reach superior levels of performance. Zero Energy Ready Home requirements focus on six main categories, which are: comfort and quiet, healthy environment, enhanced durability, quality construction, advanced technology, and energy efficiency. By crafting homes that reach the highest standards in each of these categories, the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Program helps to raise the bar for new home construction.

Benefits of Building Energy-Efficient Homes

Energy efficiency is good for homeowners, the economy, and the environment. Altogether, the United States spends approximately $400 billion a year powering homes and office buildings. Improving energy efficiency to a point where little energy is wasted could save the U.S. roughly 20 percent on energy costs per year. This interprets to a savings of about $400 a year for each homeowner.

Homeowner Benefits

Zero Energy Ready Homes are designed with the utmost attention to temperature control, reduction of VOCs, tight air seal, durability, and quiet. Thus homes will often be more comfortable in temperature, have less noise pollution and better indoor air quality. Zero Energy Ready Homes can also save owners money on energy costs and repairs.

Zero Energy Ready Home Requirements

To be a Zero Energy Ready Certified building, homes need to:

  • Include energy efficient appliances and fixtures
  • Have windows that meet EnergyStar specifications
  • Comply with EnergyStar checklists for thermal enclosure, water management, HVAC quality installation, and target home size adjustment factor
  • Have insulation that meets 2012 International Energy Conservation Code levels
  • Follow provisions from the Consolidated Renewable Energy Ready Home checklist to ensure future cost savings on solar installations
  • Follow Indoor airPlus specifications to achieve high indoor air quality
  • Conserve water and energy by using systems that provide rapid hot water
  • Ensure proper ventilation using ducts and systems such as ERVs or HRVs