Energy, consumer groups laud new federal efficiency standards for housing

A coalition of energy- and consumer-focused trade groups lauded the release of new energy-efficiency standards for the construction of new single-family and multifamily homes, which were announced last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Nine groups released a joint statement and a series of individual perspectives to voice support for the move — including the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

“By improving energy efficiency, the congressionally mandated requirements will save residents an estimated $15,071 for single-family homes and $5,886 per multifamily unit over 30 years, net of costs (compared to homes under existing U.S. requirements),” according to the joint statement. “Residents of single-family homes would save $963 every year on energy costs, on average.”

NCLC zeroed in on the benefits it expects that consumers will enjoy based on the new standards.

“Making new homes more energy efficient will lower utility costs for homeowners and renters who too often struggle to pay their bills and will reduce the risk of foreclosure and eviction,” Alys Cohen, senior attorney with NCLC, said in a statement. “We applaud HUD and USDA for updating their building codes and urge the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to adopt the newer standards so affordable energy is available for the many families moving into homes financed through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

Energy transitions can sometimes be costly at the outset until new technologies are fully implemented and their benefits realized. In that vein, the HAC stands ready to assist, according to David Lipsetz, its president and CEO.

“HUD and USDA are helping keep utilities costs lower for homeowners and renters,” Lipsetz said. “This is the right move at a time when housing costs are growing ever farther out of reach. We stand ready to work with the agencies to find ways to cover the upfront costs for the short time periods until they pay for themselves.”

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), which represents more than 300 electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, also praised the new standards.

“NEMA commends Acting HUD Secretary Todman and USDA Secretary Vilsack for their leadership on this final determination that will create cost savings, generate efficiency gains, and further reduce emissions from buildings, benefitting all Americans,” Debra Phillips, NEMA president and CEO, said in a statement. “This decision will lower the energy burden on low-income homes, reducing monthly utility bills in the process.”

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