Consumer Engagement in Energy Codes

Consumer Engagement in Energy
Consumers Union
Stacy Weisfeld, Campaign Organizer
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Project Manager
What are energy codes?
Minimum standards for
energy efficiency in new
and renovated
residential and
commercial buildings.
• Energy performance baseline
• Part of overall building code adopted by state and
local governments
Examples of Energy Code Criteria
Wood-burning fireplaces must have
gasketed doors
A home with a forcedair furnace heating
system must have a
The IECC requires builders to post
an IECC certificate near the
electrical distribution box.
International Energy Conservation
Code (IECC)
• National standard that Consumers Union
• Updated every 3 years
• 2012 is most current
Why Are Energy Codes Important?
•Reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas
•Save consumers $
•Stimulate the economy and create green jobs
•Ensure health and safety
•Improve long term sustainability
Reduce energy consumption and
greenhouse gas emissions
• 1/3 of total US
greenhouse gas
emissions from building
• 2012 IECC improves
efficiency by 40% over
2003 code.
Save consumers $
• Average U.S. home
spends $2,175 on utility
costs per year over $180
per month!
• $800 more to build to 2009 code but
payback with a 30 year mortgage is less than
a year!
• Average household saves $200 a year in
energy costs
Smart Investment
Arvind Balaraman
•Costs up to 5-times
more to repair
energy leaks and
inefficiencies after
the fact
• Average cost of retrofitting homes is $4,800,
compared to $800 to build it correctly from
the start
Help stimulate the economy and
create green jobs
• Local businesses and labor to create efficient
products and better insulate homes
• Ease pressure on
organizations that help
families with their energy
• Alleviate demand to
electrical grid and reduce
need for new power plants
Ensure health and safety
• Well built and more
comfortable homes
• Consistent temperature in
• Fewer drafts
• More Americans can stay
cool in the summer and
warm in the winter
Simon Howden
Resistance to Energy Codes
• Confidence in current practice, business-asusual
• Lack of information on quantity of energy
• Lack of enforcement
• Unsure of costs/benefits
The Importance of
Consumer Outreach
Why target consumers?
• Consumers can eliminate our biggest barrier – opposition
from home builders.
• It’s hard to make policy changes without public support.
• In communities where public support is high, energy
codes are easier to adopt.
• So… HOW to educate consumers?
• THE FIRST STEP: Find out what motivates them.
BCAP & Consumers Union –
conducted a survey to consumers
• PART 1: What messages resonate with
1.Money saving?
2.Environmental impacts?
3.Quality construction?
4.General benefits?
5.Common arguments against energy codes?
Statement Prior to Survey
Energy codes are minimum requirements that
builders must meet to ensure that homes
meet energy efficiency standards.
Consumers agreed with the following
• Homebuilders should not make less efficient homes at
the consumers’ expense (73%)
• Energy codes would help my energy bills be more
affordable and predictable (71%)
• Energy codes help make homes more comfortable to
live in (68%)
• Energy code standards will help to ensure quality home
Consumers agreed with the following
• Energy codes should be enforced like other safety and quality
standards of construction (75%)
• Homeowners should have a right to a home that meets
national energy standards (82%)
• Energy code standards will help ensure that homeowner and
taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently as new
building will be required to be built right the first time (74%)
• I would rather pay slightly more for a new home and have
affordable, predictable operating costs and energy bills
Used Findings to Develop Resources for
Consumers, Advocates and Professionals
Consumer Guide
Home Guide
Home Checklist
Advocate Guide
Consumer Handout
Professional Handout
Realtor Handout
Consumers Union Outreach
Consumers Union Outreach
Share Your Story Feature
How Partners Can Get Involved
• Collaborate on information development
• Collaborate on dissemination of materials
– events, meetings, newsletters, websites, listservs
• Educate members and the community at large
• How to reach new homeowners/communities
with new buildings
– point of sale, lit drop in newly built communities,
city hall meetings?
• Other?
Contact information:
Stacy Weisfeld, Campaign Organizer, 202-462-6262
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Project Manager, 202-462-6262
Thanks to our partners at BCAP, Kelly Guhanick, Maureen Guttman and
Maria Ellingson.