Changes are happening throughout the construction industry, especially related to energy code compliance and tax credits. Here are answers to trending questions that will impact all Texas homebuilders.
1 – House Bill 3215 — Why should you care about it?
HB 3215 provides builders with multiple ways to comply with the statewide mandated energy code, including:
- Prescriptive or performance path
- Energy Star Certification
- NEW – The Home Energy Rating Index (HERS Score)
The HERS Score is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. It’s also a national standard as to how a home is to be inspected and tested. Additionally, the builder will need to comply with 2018 mandatory table R 401.2.5.
Why is this a good option for builders? The HERS score not only simplifies compliance utilizing tradeoffs to achieve the needed scores, but it’s also a valuable marketing tool. The HERS score to a home is similar to how a car is rated using miles per gallon (mpg). The HERS score tells the homebuyer how the home will perform relative to energy usage. To find out what HERS score you’ll need, contact a qualified HERS Rater.
2 – The IRS 45L Tax Credit — Do you qualify? Probably!
The $2,000 federal IRS tax credit is available for builders building energy efficient homes and that have received HERS compliance. The IRS allows builders to use this credit for 2021 built homes and may amend back three years. So great news, there is still time to take advantage. A qualified HERS rater can walk you through all the steps.
Requirements for 2022 houses have not yet been signed into law, but don’t miss out on previous years. As an example, $2,000 x 300 Qualifying Homes = $600,000.
3 – Will your 16 SEER A/C unit become 14.4 SEER? Maybe.
Air conditioning (A/C) systems are rated based on an Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). AHRI is a certification program that provides accurate and unbiased evaluation of heating, water heating, ventilation, air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment.
In the case of an air conditioner or heat pump, an AHRI-certified system confirms the performance ratings of specific combinations of the outdoor unit, indoor unit, and/or furnace listed in the AHRI Directory of Certified Product Performance. AHRI’s voluntary certification programs conduct third-party laboratory testing to confirm performance ratings. The ratings associated with such combination are certified in the form of an AHRI Certificate of Product Ratings. For A/C the rating is referred to as a Seasonal Energy Efficient Rating (SEER.)
The changes being adopted for the rating of the A/C systems will require all manufacturers to make some updates to the current systems in order to maintain the current rating or additional field testing will be required. As a result of these new requirements, a system being rated today at a 16 SEER may end up as low as a 14.4 SEER. By January 1, 2023, SEER2 product regulations will be in full effect, therefore builders need to check with their A/C contractors.
4 – Energy Star — Have you considered it lately?
The Energy Star program has been around for years, and aside from the performance and marketing advantages, Energy Star compliance is being proposed as the only option for earning the 45L Tax Credit moving forward. If you’re not an Energy Star builder but are expecting to earn the tax credit in the future (if it’s signed into law), you’ll want to know what construction changes you’ll need to make to be compliant.
As you consider any change that will impact energy code compliance, ask the right questions and make sure you’re getting the right answers.
Article by Kathy Howard, Director Strategic Sales, Burgess Construction Consultants, Inc. Kathy was co-founder of Energy Sense in 2000 as one of the first energy code raters in the state. Her passion is keeping up with the ever-changing energy efficiency industry. She serves on multiple committees at GHBA and other Texas builder associations, including her position as a TAB Life Director and NAHB delegate. Her energy code expertise supports the existing experienced Burgess team serving all major markets in Texas along with Arizona, Atlanta, Florida and Colorado. Learn more at www.burgess-inc.com