Did you know that new 2016 Residential Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Energy Standards) are now being enforced and California is expecting to see 28% more energy savings in regulated loads* than those built under the 2013 Energy Standards?
*an electrical load is an electrical component or portion of a circuit that consumes electric power
Having energy efficient buildings:
- Reduces energy costs.
- Increases reliability and availability of electricity.
- Improves building occupant comfort and reduces impact to the environment.
Energy efficiency requires substantial initial investment in order to realize future savings. Without mandatory measures, and energy efficiency standards, buildings would most likely not be built with energy efficiency in mind. California has set an ambitious goal that all new construction will be net-zero energy by 2020. Leading up to that goal, the 2016 update to the Energy Standards requires new and altered homes to become more efficient in several ways.
Figure 1 shows the four main areas of focus for the 2016 Energy Standards updates.
Architects, building contractors and inspectors are expected to understand these changes. Should you choose to build a new home, they will help to ensure that it meets all state and local energy efficiency requirements. If you’re still curious about the changes, take a look at this summary. Some highlights include:
- Mandatory high efficiency lighting
- Increased prescriptive efficiency for water heaters
- Changes to both mandatory and prescriptive HVAC requirements
- Changes to envelop requirements
While these changes may increase building costs, there are economic and enviornmental benefits to building in an energy efficient home.
Over the long-run, improving the energy efficiency of a new or pre-existing house can be a good investment. As this site explains, you can hire a qualified assessor to determine your home’s “Energy Score”. This score will help you to figure out exactly how much money you can save each month by improving your home’s energy efficiency. A home built with a high Energy Score will see greater savings over the lifetime of the home.
PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and SWG also offer programs for both new and existing construction to help lessen the cost of making your home more energy efficient. Here is a resource you can use to find various incentive programs around the state.
There are also major environmental impacts when homes become more energy efficient. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the building sector consumes nearly half (47.6%) of all energy produced in the United States. Seventy-five percent (74.9%) of all the electricity produced in the U.S. is used just to operate buildings. Globally, these percentages are even greater. (source)
By investing in energy efficient buildings, we can start reducing the oil spills, acid rain, smog, habitat destruction and other forms of environmental pollution associated with the use of energy. This is a payoff that will last for generations.