Energy Department Announces New Method to Ensure Cost-Effectiveness of Residential Building Energy Codes

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to clean, efficient energy solutions that help families save money on their energy bills, the Energy Department recently released a new methodology for evaluating homeowner savings through residential energy codes. These codes are commonly adopted by states and local code enforcement jurisdictions across the nation to make homes more efficient and cheaper to power. DOE’s new approach is based on a life-cycle analysis that balances initial costs with the longer-term savings these codes make possible. By demonstrating savings available to homeowners, this methodology will aid the adoption of cost-effective, energy-saving codes for residential buildings, and help families save money over the lifetime of their home.

The methodology provides policymakers with an estimate of the economic benefits of energy codes though a life-cycle cost assessment over a 30-year period, based on a set of parameters typical for an average mortgage. The assessment includes both single-family and multifamily buildings, as well as a variety of common building foundation and fuel types. Costs of efficiency measures are derived from the Energy Department’s Residential Cost Database, and balanced against energy cost savings, mortgage payments and other financing impacts over the life of the home.

States that adopt residential energy codes, such as the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), improve the efficiency of newly constructed homes. The Department intends to use this new method to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these residential energy codes. Analyses of the cost savings generated through the 2009 and 2012 versions of the IECC will be available in the coming months, showing how energy codes implemented across the country can reduce energy costs for homeowners.

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