Time for More Energy Efficient Homes in Utah?

From KCSG.com

By Chris Thomas

If Utahns are paying more to heat their homes this winter than they should have to, one reason may be the state’s outdated residential building codes.

New homes built in Utah have to meet minimum standards for energy efficiency from 2006, and experts say a lot has changed since then in terms of building materials and techniques. The legislature squashed potential updates the last two years, but will be asked to pass them again in January.

Kevin Emerson, a senior policy associate with Utah Clean Energy, says there are benefits for the state’s economy as well as individual homeowners.

“This specific standard – since we’d be moving from the vastly outdated 2006 standard – would be cutting energy waste and associated energy costs by 30 percent for the average home in Utah.”

Emerson says the newer codes include what he calls “common sense” requirements like sealing home heating and cooling ducts and using better-quality windows. Some home builders say those improvements will make their houses less affordable, particularly for first-time buyers.

Earlier this year, a nonpartisan advisory board, which included builders, produced a compromise to take to the legislature – updating only parts of the codes. Dave Parduhn, who heads an energy consulting firm in Provo, sees it as a stopgap measure.

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