Saving Money in New Home Construction

Saving Money in New Home Construction

by Nicholas Dow


The state of Michigan is currently debating adopting the Department of Energy supported 2012 IECC energy code update which has the potential to save residents building new homes a net average of $478 every year or $10,000 on average.

IECC 2012 Code Adoption

Full adoption of the code would encourage energy-efficiency improvements that are longer-lasting and much more effective than changing out light bulbs and low-flow shower heads. The codes would include permanent improvements to a building’s shell, including better windows and stronger insulation. The walls and shell of a home would be made tighter and have less duct and HVAC leakage. Hot water pipes would have to have better insulation to allow hot water distribution to be more efficient. These measures are most cost-effective at initial construction. Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest and most quickly deployed source of energy available to Michiganders. What’s at issue here is the adoption or rejection of the United States Department of Energy-supported 2012 new home construction energy code update. Gov. Rick Snyder and his director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs have the authority to adopt these cost-saving code improvements, saving hundreds of dollars annually for occupants of newly constructed homes.

What are the IECC Energy Codes?

The International Energy Conservation Codes (IECC) are nationally recognized codes for residential construction. The IECC sets minimum energy efficiency provisions in residential buildings for new construction. The codes help to improve energy efficiency in homes and save the home owners money.

Why is Adopting the Codes Important?

Adopting the 2012 energy code is smart policy that moves Michigan toward a “no regrets” energy future. It’s a direct and local investment in our communities that employs skilled workers locally and keeps pollution out of our air and water.

In December 2013, Gov. Snyder laid out his vision for a “no regrets” energy future. Wisely, the governor called for an emphasis on “eliminating energy waste” and has made that goal a foundation of his energy plan. Speaking on energy and the environment, the governor has said, “There are things we can do today that benefit us right now and pay dividends tomorrow, no matter what the future holds.” Gov. Snyder and LARA (Michigan Department of Licensing and regulatory Affairs) should fend off challenges to current efficiency standards and adopt the full 2012 code this year.

Full adoption of the 2012 codes will save money in both the short and long term. Homes built under the new standard will have average energy costs 30.9 percent less than homes built to Michigan’s Uniform Energy Code (2009 standard). Because most new homes are financed, the DOE finds, “After accounting for up-front costs and additional costs financed in the mortgage, homeowners should see net positive cash flows (i.e., cumulative savings exceeding cumulative cash outlays) in one year for the 2012 IECC.” More simply, less money will be going to pay for your mortgage and energy costs in the first year, and all the energy upgrades will completely pay for themselves in 3.5 years.

For more information see WMEAC’s Grand Haven Tribune opinion article: http://www.grandhaventribune.com/opinion/community-columnist/941571

Michigan Cost and Energy Saving: http://www.energycodes.gov/sites/default/files/documents/MichiganResidentialCostEffectiveness.pdf

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