This article was originally published in the November/December 1999 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online November/December 1999

in energy

Northeast Utility System Sees Marketing Benefits with Energy Star

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Connecticut Light & Power's SmartLiving Center took place on September 14, 1999.
Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Northeast Utilities Systems, has long supported builders who construct energy-efficient new homes. Now the utility is also working with the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star programs to promote even more energy savings. As an electric utility, CL&P sees this as an opportunity to promote efficient electricity use and to align itself with the marketing power of Energy Star.

CL&P provides technical assistance for meeting the requirements of the Energy Star Homes program; it also provides financial incentives for builders to install Energy Star-labeled lighting, appliances, and equipment. To increase builder and customer awareness, the utility has opened a new customer service center that prominently features Energy Star-labeled products.

Three Support Levels CL&P is working to provide three levels of support to address builders' needs. The first level helps builders meet the requirements of the Model Energy Code (MEC). In May, the State of Connecticut adopted the 1995 MEC. Unlike the state's previous energy code, this version of MEC requires builders to document code compliance. For a limited time, CL&P will evaluate construction drawings and document MEC compliance for home builders within its service territory. The utility offers this service free of charge. In turn, it gets the opportunity to analyze proposed homes for inclusion in the Energy Star and Energy Crafted Homes programs and promote to builders the benefits of participating.

The second level of utility support provides builders with assistance in meeting the requirements of the Energy Star Homes program. CL&P will provide builders with plan reviews and recommendations for meeting the Energy Star Homes program guidelines, which are approximately 30% more efficient than what is required by MEC. CL&P will also provide a construction inspection and the postconstruction verification (including a blower door test) necessary to receive the Energy Star Homes program label and a certificate.

In electrically heated homes, there is no cost if the builder successfully meets the program's guidelines. For fossil-fuel heated homes, a nominal fee will be charged. The benefits to builders of building their homes to Energy Star standards include brand recognition, access to preferred financing, marketing assistance, and potentially fewer callbacks and more referrals.

Additional incentives are awarded to builders who meet Energy Star building criteria. They include the following:

  • $50 for the installation of an Energy Star refrigerator;
  • $50 for the installation of an Energy Star dishwasher;
  • $100 for the installation of an Energy Star central air conditioner; and
  • five free Energy Star light fixtures from their SmartLiving catalog or a 20% discount (up to $50) on Energy Star light fixtures purchased from local retailers.
As a third level of support, CL&P works with the builders to meet the standards of the Energy Crafted Home program (see New Construction in New England: The Energy Crafted Home Program, HE Sept/Oct '92, p. 26), which was sponsored by several New England utilities and has been one of CL&P's programs since 1994. This program focuses on increasing insulation levels, tightening the building envelope, and improving equipment efficiencies. Rebates are available for installing ground source heat pumps as well. The SmartLiving Center To help promote its programs, CL&P recently opened its SmartLiving Center, located just outside of Hartford. Here, builders, architects, and consumers will be able to meet with energy consultants, view product samples such as Energy Star-labeled windows, and use interactive displays such as one similar to the Telltale House developed by Home Energy and Affordable Comfort (see Training Made Easy with the Telltale House Exhibit, HE July/Aug '99 p. 33). They can also review books and videos in the reference library, and obtain program literature.

This 4,000 ft2 center will also contain a training facility, including computer workstations with Internet access, indoor and outdoor lighting displays, and an operating kitchen complete with Energy Star-labeled appliances. The center, located at 2231 Berlin Turnpike in Newington, Connecticut, will be open seven days a week. CL&P has future plans to open other SmartLiving Centers throughout Connecticut.

New Value for Homes By allying with the Energy Star Homes, Appliances, Lighting and Equipment programs, CL&P is in a position to show builders not only how to comply with the new MEC regulations but also how to add more value to their homes at less cost to their customers. More importantly, the utility uses the federal government's Energy Star brand in its marketing and promotional materials, which CL&P hopes will bring added name recognition.
--Don Mauritz
Donald L. Mauritz is a research associate with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working in support of the Energy Star Homes program.

For more information:

For more information on the Energy Star family of programs, visit the Energy Star Web site at or call the Energy Star hotline at 1-888-STAR-YES (782-7937). For more information on the Smartliving Center, go to or call CL&P at (800)228-7764.



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