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Homeowner views on energy codes

Published on Written by Posted in Advocacy and policy

A recent market research study revealed that Idahoans value energy efficiency. In fact, 65% of them favor energy codes that are consistent with national standards, but less than half trust the State of Idaho to adopt the right energy efficiency standards for Idahoans.

The reasons for supporting energy codes are primarily financial. The monthly operating costs are the top driver of whether someone supports energy codes. Additional key motivators include the beliefs that energy code standards ensure quality construction and that homeowners purchasing a new home should have a right to a home that meets national energy standards.  

An interesting finding is that none of the statements regarding value and/or purchase price of home have much of an impact on whether a statewide energy code should be adopted. There is very strong agreement that an energy efficient home has a higher resale value and that it is more comfortable. But, when you look deeper into the data, there was not a strong correlation between this idea and overall support for adoption of a state energy code. The respondents who disagreed with the need for statewide energy codes did so, because they felt that it limits homeowners’ rights and, to a lesser extent, it adds more government regulations. 

Idahoans are willing to pay as much as $10 per month in additional rent or mortgage costs to save $16 per month on energy bills. They also indicated that up 7 years is an acceptable payback period. This compares favorably to research on the cost of building to the current energy code (2009 IECC) versus the upcoming energy code (2012 IECC). The estimated cost for 2009 IECC is less than $10 per month and savings are $21.75 per month; with a the simple payback of 5.7 years for climate zone 5.

The survey also asked homeowners about their own homes. Nearly four out of five respondents believe their home is at least “somewhat energy efficient.” However, they could not identify what about their home made it efficient. This tells us that there is a need for more education on what makes a home energy efficient. When asked, individuals preferred communication method on energy efficiency is via direct mail or online. They responded that the most believable information sources are local people, such as an architect, building inspector or utility. 

The surveys were conducted by Northwest Research Group in collaboration with Boise State University, the State Office of Energy Resources and, my company, Eco Edge Consulting. The funding was provided by Bonneville Power Administration. The methodology involved a telephone sample, which was conducted with a random sample of 600 Idahoans, ages 18 and older, using a random digit dial (RDD) sample in which 30% of all interviews were completed with wireless only or mostly wireless households. The state was stratified by county into three geographic areas and sampling was proportionate to the population. The final data collection was completed between December 12-22, 2013. All work was performed in accordance with ISO 20252:2012 Market Research Standards. Access the complete survey results at idahoenergycode.com.

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Sharon Grant

Managing Member GreenSteps

1 commentLeave a comment

President, Irvin Metal Roofing
Great read Sharon, Since, as you pointed out most homeowners cannot explain what it is about their homes that makes them energy efficient, I think education is definitely the key to homeowners embracing and buying into the idea of energy efficient homes. I also think that new building code is an effective way to improve the energy efficiency of newly constructed homes, but too much government regulation can cause more harm than good. Once again, homeowner education, sensible new building code updates, and perhaps incentives for builders to build greener and more energy efficient homes. - They are easier to sell to, so that should be a direct benefit for new home builders. Respectfully, Paul.

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