All of the above: a home energy strategy for everyone

Tuesday’s State of the Union Address gave President Obama a chance to remind the country of his “All of the Above” energy strategy. This strategy, announced by Obama in 2012, “develops every source of American-made energy” with the goals of reducing energy costs, growing the energy sector of the economy, and reducing the effects of climate change. These are admirable goals, and we’re doing our part for home energy efficiency, so it was good to hear that Obama believes that his strategy is working. It got us thinking about our own energy strategy at home and how we can adapt All of the Above for home energy efficiency.

We can make simple behavioral changes, like turning off the lights in empty rooms and turning down the thermostat a degree or two in the winter.

Simple changes around the house, like swapping incandescent light bulbs for CFLs or LEDs, take just minutes and will save you money for years to come. Looking for the best deals? Shop for a wide selection of energy efficient light bulbs for every fixture in – and outside – your home.

When an old appliance breaks down, replacing it with an Energy Star rated appliance can save big money: up to $100 each year for the lifetime of the appliance!

Time to remodel? Buying a home? It’s the perfect time for a home energy audit. A home energy audit is performed by a home performance professional to assess how much energy a home uses and find areas to improve the comfort and lower the energy cost of a home. Many states and utilities offer discounts on home energy audits, and winter is a good time to get it done.

An all of the above home energy strategy can work for everyone. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost much money. Best of all, you can see the results – lower costs – on your next energy bill.

Shaheen-Portman, the SAVE Act, and the All of the Above Energy Policy

Shaheen-Portman, the SAVE Act, and the All of the Above Energy Policy

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 proposed laws like Shaheen-Portman and the SAVE Act. These will help homeowners take basic steps, like performing home energy audits, and undertaking weatherization, air sealing, and HVAC retrofit and upgrade work, that can be part of everyone’s personal energy policy.

Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz wrote a letter to 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?

Residential energy efficiency, energy costs focus of new laws

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 the 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.

An energy mortgage for all homes

More than property taxes or interest on a loan, energy costs are where most homeowners will spend their money each year. The average American family spends more than $2,000 on home energy each year.

A house sitting on a stack of money
Go green and save some green. Energy mortgages are coming!

Surprised? Think of all the electrical appliances; the heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) system; the gadgets and gizmos we leave plugged into power strips day and night. It all adds up, and that’s before we even think about air leakage around windows and doors, attics and crawl spaces. But what if we had an idea of home energy costs? How would that change our home buying and selling decisions?

An energy mortgage for all homes

Energy efficient mortgages have been around since the early 1990s. The US government’s FHA Insured Energy Efficient Mortgage Program launched in 1992 and was widely available by 1995. This program, and others like it, use an energy efficient home’s projected annual utility costs to allow homeowners to pay more for a mortgage. That means homeowners can afford a better home, or they can complete energy efficient home improvement projects that are included in the mortgage payment.

The 2013 study “Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks,” by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital and the Institute for Market Transformation found that

the risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR-rated homes… American households spend around $230 billion each year on energy, not including transportation, and the residential sector accounts for 20 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States. tld domain names . Energy efficiency in the residential sector has a potential to save $41 billion annually, according to research by McKinsey & Company.

Energy efficient homes don’t just save homeowners money, they build stronger neighborhoods and communities.

Energy efficient mortgages, or energy mortgages, have been getting a lot of attention lately, and not just from homeowners. The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act, or SAVE Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet and Johnny Isakson. The proposed bill would require federal mortgage underwriters to include annual home energy costs when calculating the value and affordability of any home, not only energy efficient homes.

The SAVE Act will help all home buyers understand the total cost of home ownership, the PITI+E payment: Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, and Energy. Home sellers will benefit from knowing their home’s energy consumption and cost as well. They can make energy efficient home improvements, replace inefficient appliances and HVAC equipment, or offer buyers a credit for that work. It’s an energy mortgage for all homes.

Green creates green

Smart mortgages, mortgages that account for a home’s annual energy cost, are popular with homeowners. When buyers understand a home’s annual energy cost they can make a better, more informed decision about where to buy. Home sellers can use annual energy consumption and cost information to make their homes more attractive to buyers. Energy efficient homes sell faster, and for higher prices, than unimproved houses.

No matter where you live, a greener home means more green in your wallet.