What California homeowners need to know as residential properties strive for net zero energy building.
It’s that time again. Every three years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) revises the building code to include recent advancements in technology and consider new goals for energy efficiency. This year, the commission marked several new areas for improvement that concern both residential property development and retrofits.
For residential properties, the commission is focused on achieving net zero energy for new construction by 2020. The new standards came into effect on January 1, 2017, so contractors only have a short time to get familiar with the new building requirements.
What is Title 24, you ask? Simply put, it’s a shorthand reference to Title 24 Part 6 of the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Title 24 provides specific guidelines for energy conservation in the state and primarily strives to prevent the need for additional power plants to supply unbridled demand. It also applies efficiency regulations to building features such as materials, lighting, and appliances.
And it’s worked, too. More than just keeping California from having to invest in new power plants, Title 24 has helped eliminate over 250 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the CEC, that is equal to taking a whopping 37 million cars off the road! California’s electricity usage per capita has stayed relatively consistent over the last 40 years as well, while energy consumption continues to rise across the nation. California residents have saved billions of dollars in energy bills thanks to these standards.
The Cost of Change: What You Need to Know
As a homeowner, you’re probably wondering what the changes to residential building in 2017 are - and how much it will cost. While the updated building requirements for new residential construction are predicted to cost homeowners about $2,700 in additional hardware and installation costs, the CEC expects this investment to result in savings of nearly $7,500 over the life a home’s 30-year mortgage. The 2017 updated requirements now affect these areas:
Attics - According to the CEC, adding insulation to porches and roofs can equalize temperature spikes by as much as 35 degrees, effectively reducing the need for cooling on hot summer days.
Lighting - The 2017 updates to Title 24 standards require all lighting in new homes to be highly efficient. By installing controls for fixtures that can adjust output, homeowners can cut lighting energy usage in half.
Water Heating - The CEC recommends installing tankless water heating technology and improving water distribution systems to help reduce energy usage. Improvements in this area can reduce energy usage by as much as 35%.
Walls - Updated regulations now require builders to use high-performance wall materials with additional insulation. This will keep more heat inside during the winter, and more heat out of homes during the summer, saving energy on heating and cooling year-round.
Investing in energy efficiency is a win-win for both homeowners and builders alike. Besides reducing energy bills, "energy efficient features could make homes more valuable,” the CEC reports. Additionally, a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders found that prospective homebuyers continue to actively seek out homes with energy efficient upgrades, ultimately making the new building codes a real win for homeowners.
Considering a home remodel in 2017? Check out Acton Constructions' portfolio of projects. At Acton Construction, our experts are full of energy-efficient design ideas. We’ll help you achieve the elegance you crave with the building compliance you need – in the most cost effective way possible.