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Know your energy rights!
What Are Energy Codes and How Do They Affect You?
Energy codes are minimum requirements for efficient design and construction for new and renovated residential and commercial buildings. Homes constructed to meet the model energy code use less energy, meaning the homeowner spends less on utilities! It also improves the comfort level of the home. Do you have a room that is always hotter than others? Have annoying cold drafts coming from under you door and near your windows? The more efficient your house is, the less this happens and the more comfortable you are.
And of course there are tremendous environmental benefits from better energy codes. In the United States, buildings use one-third of our total energy, two-thirds of our electricity, and one-eighth of our water and transform land that provides valuable ecological services. Atmospheric emissions from buildings’ energy use lead to acid rain, ground-level ozone, smog, and global climate change.
Other benefits? New jobs, a stimulated economy and a happier community, just to name a few.
Every homeowner can retrofit their home and make a substantial difference. But better yet, imagine new buildings already being built up to a higher code. Future spending on retrofits and energy bills will be knocked out from the start.
To learn more, click the links below or see our educational materials!
Consumers Union works for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. Energy codes affect a majority of the population but are often overlooked as a consumer issue. Strong energy codes help not only people moving into new homes but future buyers and the community as a whole.
The goal of our energy code work is to educate the public on the importance of energy codes and to help them become their own advocates for code improvement and enforcement. CU is working with the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) and state and local organizations to reach as many people and as many communities as possible. We want everyone to remember that strong energy codes help not only people moving into new homes but future buyers and the community as a whole!
If you’re an individual:
Help your community adopt the most recent code! Check out our Guide for Advocates. Educate your community or city council with our Consumer Engagement in Energy Codes presentation. Need more ideas? Contact us!
If you’re an organization:
We would love to work with you to help educate consumers and work for updated codes! Please feel free to print our toolkit and other resources to use at events, meetings or in your other efforts as well as post them to your website. Just let us know so we can find out what audiences they are reaching. Please contact Shannon Baker-Branstetter to discuss further opportunities for collaboration. We welcome new ideas!
Consumer Reports and BCAP’s national survey found that a majority of consumers surveyed agreed with the following statements:
- Homebuilders should not make less efficient homes at the consumers’ expense (73%)
- Energy codes would help my energy bills be more affordable and predictable (71%)
- Energy codes help make homes more comfortable to live in (68%)
- Energy code standards will help to ensure quality home construction (70%)
- Energy codes should be enforced like other safety and quality standards of construction (75%)
- Homeowners should have a right to a home that meets national energy standards (82%)
- Energy code standards will help ensure that homeowner and taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently as new building will be required to be built right the first time (74%)
- I would rather pay slightly more for a new home and have affordable, predictable operating costs and energy bills (79%)
For more survey details, click here.
Consumers Union Documents
- Energy Codes: What Advocates Need to Know (PDF)
Click to download (PDF) Fact sheet on the financial and environmental benefits of home energy codes, and ways consumers can help promote greater public awareness of home energy-efficiency.
- Home Energy Code Checklist (PDF and HTML versions)
Click to download (PDF) (HTML) A 2-page summary checklist to determine if your home meets national energy code standards, and a guide on how to read the Energy Code Certificate that builders must post in new or substantially renovated homes.
- Energy Codes: What Consumers Need to Know (PDF)
Click to download (PDF) Fact sheet on home energy codes and benefits for consumers
- Home Energy Code Guide (PDF)
Click to download (PDF) An in-depth guide to home energy performance, including key features to look for to determine if your home meets national energy code standards.
- States Hear Consumer Call for Cost-Cutting Energy Efficiency Standards
More states across the country are using energy codes to save their residents money, improve homes and buildings, and protect the environment. Support has grown from Maryland, which just adopted a more stringent energy code, to Texas, which this month will adopt a statewide code that should cut the energy consumption of new single-family homes Continue Reading
- Tom Miller’s Green Renovation
Tom Miller talks about his experience with weatherizing his home and adding green building features.
- New LBNL study pegs enforcement costs of building codes at $100/home
The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab released a new study finding that the incremental cost for local governments to enforce energy codes using a traditional review and inspection process can be up to approximately $100 per home, assuming best-practice levels of time spent per home and re-inspection upon failure. This cost is very small compared to the Continue Reading