Thursday, January 12, 2012

Energy Efficiency is #1 Building Trend for 2012 recently released a top 10 list of building industry business trends for 2012, and their #1 states "Energy Efficiency Isn't A Fad."

Good to hear!

The #2 trend is "Death, Taxes and Regulation", which also predicts that stricter state-level legislation regarding energy building codes will increase (much to builders' chagrin).

So in reality, the top two trends both have to do with energy consulting. While some in the building community resist these trends, claiming they will increase their costs, we see this as an opportunity for a win-win.

Win 1: The new home customer wins because their energy-efficient new home will save them money on their utility bills, and they won't incur the indoor comfort problems so many of our energy audit clients have.

Win 2: The builder wins because happier customers lead to positive word of mouth marketing for their company and more energy efficient homes have less call backs (a costly, dreaded phrase for builders), which saves them money.

So what about that additional cost to build? One estimate puts it around an additional $2500 average cost to build energy efficient/comply with proposed codes. Hypothetically, if the client and the builder split that cost so to speak, the client would easily recoup that in their energy savings, and the builder would easily net positive on the marketing advantage and reduced call backs.

The reality is, as we all get 'smarter' about energy, and how to use less of it, change is a necessity....change in our behaviors, change in laws, change in the historic 'norm' of things. You can choose to view that as a negative, or you can choose to see that as progression. The reality is, most of these things are not as difficult as people initially make them out to be - sometimes it takes compromise and creativity - but there is usually a way to find middle ground and make it work.

And let's not forget Win 3: we, and future generations, all get to keep enjoying this beautiful planet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Legislation for Home Energy!

Happy 2012!

With the new year comes some changes in energy legislation. First, some great news: 2012 starts the official phase-out of incandescent lightbulbs. The Energy Independence Act of 2007 created various efficiency standards, including the declaration for lightbulbs to be at least 25% more efficient in 5 years or they couldn't be manufactured in the United States. Specifically, starting Jan. 1, 2012, traditional 100-watt incandescents would have to be more efficient or stop being manufactured. The same is stated for 75-watt bulbs by Jan. 1, 2013, and 60 and 40-watt bulbs by 2014. Manufacturers have since invested millions of dollars in more efficient lighting, including halogen, compact flourescent and light-emitting diodes (or LEDs), and will no longer produce traditional incandescent bulbs (Read our blog comparing CFLs and LEDs). You can still purchase incandescents though, and unfortunately reports say consumers will probably do so until they are forced to switch. However, it looks like we are on our way to being a more energy-efficient country!
There is some bad energy legislation news though: the federal tax credit for builders to build energy efficient homes and for homeowners to install energy efficient products expired on December 31, 2011. The energy industry is urging Congress to extend these residential tax credits, and you can help by speaking to your local representative! Extending these credits could give you money back on energy efficient upgrades like windows or Energy Star appliances for your home! You can CLICK HERE to see RESNET's efforts to reinstate the credit, exactly what's involved, and their guidance on how you can help.