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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 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.

Press Releases

  • 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

Blog Posts

  • Tom Miller’s Green Renovation

    Tom Miller talks about his experience with weatherizing his home and adding green building features.

News Articles

  • 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