California has long been paving the way as a leader in renewable energy. But this Wednesday, May 9, the state officially sealed the deal as they passed a mandate that all new homes and low-rise apartment buildings are required to have a built-in solar power system starting in 2020.
The decision was unanimously made by the five-member California Energy Commission with little debate, showing the state’s unquestionable commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
In a press release, the Commission announced this move would “cut energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent,” an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the equivalent of taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road.
Changes Being Made To The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards
The mandate, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, focuses on four key areas:
• Residential photovoltaic systems (solar energy systems)
• Updated thermal envelope standards (to prevent heat transfer from the interior to exterior of homes and vice versa)
• Residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements (to improve indoor air quality)
• Nonresidential lighting requirements
According to Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the new standards will allow Californians to buy and live in homes that will operate more efficiently while generating clean energy.
“They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future,” said McAllister in the formal press release.
Costs to Homeowners
The California Energy Commission is estimating that the cost to a single-family home will increase by roughly $10,000. However, homeowners will earn that money back by saving an average of $19,000 on electricity bills over a 30 year period.
The mandate requires California homes to have a solar system of a minimum of 2-3 kilowatts, meaning the homes will still need to draw energy from the grid. Nonetheless, homeowners can expect a reduction in their monthly energy bill of roughly $80.
As The Trend Grows
Although California is the first to take the plunge, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. have also considered legislation that would require new developments to integrate solar power, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, Hawaii has already mandated solar water heaters as a step towards energy efficiency.
With California in the lead, you can bet that other states like Texas will be keeping a close eye on the progress and results seen by our friends from the West. If you have any questions about these recent changes, give IntegrateSun a call or send us an email here.