Last month we reported on President Obama’s “All of the Above” energy policy following his State of the Union speech. Especially important for the home performance industry are the parts of All of the Above that apply to residential energy efficiency. Performing home energy audits, and undertaking weatherization, air sealing, and HVAC retrofit and upgrade work can be part of everyone’s personal energy policy.
Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz wrote a letter to BreakingEnergy.com explaining why and how “All-of-the-Above is Making a Difference Across America.” Dr. Moniz focused on generation in his letter, noting that California’s Ivanpah solar thermal plant will power 100,000 homes thanks to a successful public-private partnership and a loan from the Energy Department.
In Waynesboro, Georgia, a $6.5 billion loan will help start construction on advanced nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, powering “1.5 million homes while preventing 10 million tons of carbon pollution annually.” Projects like these will satisfy the supply side of the energy equation. But what about the demand side?
Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Portman (R-OH) reintroduced their Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act on Thursday. The bill focuses on enhancing energy efficiency in residential, commercial, and federal buildings. Senator Shaheen told New Hampshire Public Radio that “energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest way to deal with our energy needs.” She’s right.
On the home front, Shaheen-Portman provides for expanding proven programs like weatherization of existing homes, and a new amendment would pay for the SAVE Act. This bill would require federal mortgage underwriters to account for a home’s projected energy costs when calculating mortgage affordability. This simple rule change would finally tell homeowners the true cost of home ownership, the PITE Payment: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Energy. Why are energy costs so important to home ownership?
Utility bills are usually larger than either real estate taxes or homeowners insurance, but they are currently ignored in mortgage underwriting.
We agree with the Institute for Market Transformation’s assessment of the SAVE Act, and we support both Shaheen-Portman and the SAVE Act. Shaheen-Portman, the SAVE Act, and President Obama’s All of the Above Energy Policy together will help grow the home energy efficiency market, and they will help us make our homes more affordable, more comfortable, and more energy efficient. And that’s an “All of the Above” home energy policy we can all agree with.