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Energy Efficiency vs. Home Affordability

Long seen as a frontrunner in clean energy goals, The Golden State has done it again by introducing a regulation that will make it mandatory for all new homes to install solar panels starting January 2020.  

The California Energy Commission recently voted unanimously to adopt building standards that require all new homes to have solar panels as part of the energy council’s 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards that focus on four key areas—smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated thermal envelope standards, residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.

According to the council, the move aims to cut energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent. While these new norms are likely to save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling, and electricity, they’re likely to add $40 to an average monthly mortgage payment for a typical 30-year mortgage for homeowners.

“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” said Andrew McAllister, Commissioner at the California Energy Commission. “The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy. They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future.”

The new requirement, which got a unanimous vote at the commission, will come into effect in two years and according to The New York Times is “likely to add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.”

However, the council, as well as builders in California, are saying that the extra cost at the beginning will be recovered thanks to the lower energy bills. “With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs,” said Dan Dunmoyer, CEO and President of the California Building Industry Association.

Dunmoyer said that it had worked with the Commission over the past 18 months on this regulation to make it possible to create a set of cost-effective standards to ensure that homebuyers could recoup the additional cost of home purchase due to these standards “over the life of the dwelling.”

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Dallas, Texas. She can be reached at Radhika.Ojha@DSNews.com.

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