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New Online Guides Teach Consumers How Building Codes Make Homes More Energy Efficient

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Thanks to the new partnership between the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) and Consumers Union, user-friendly, interactive online guides and downloadable publications are helping homeowners and buyers save energy and money by teaching them the potential of building energy codes to address and improve home energy performance.

“Everyone should have the right to an energy-efficient home that meets national standards,” says Cosimina Panetti, advocacy director of BCAP. “Energy codes—minimum requirements for efficient design and construction—offer a cost-effective way to reduce energy use and monthly bills, while also lowering carbon emissions. It’s a win-win-win.”

Energy Codes: A Consumer Issue

A 2011 Consumers Union survey found that 86% of homeowners want to know a home’s energy operating costs before they buy or rent; 82% of homeowners believe they have a right to homes that meet national standards; and 77% of homeowners think that homebuilders should not construct less efficient homes at the consumer’s expense.

“Energy codes affect the majority of the population, but are often overlooked as a consumer issue,” says Stacy Weisfeld, energy campaign organizer for Consumers Union. “Strong energy codes help not only people moving into new homes, but also future buyers and the community as a whole.”

The average U.S. homeowner will spend about $2,175 on home energy costs this year, or about $180 a month. An energy-efficient home that complies with the 2009 national energy code can save homeowners $235 or more each year compared to an average new home that does not meet the 2009 code.

Energy Code Resources

The new tools provide information about energy codes and checklists homeowners and buyers can use to identify whether construction meets building energy code requirements.

The interactive tools and downloadable publications are hosted on both the BCAP website and the Consumer Reports Greener Choices site.

The resources include:

• Energy Code Guides

Learn how to increase home energy performance through in-depth guides.

• Energy Code Printable Checklists

The checklists help determine if a new home meets national energy code standards, and teach consumers how to read the Energy Code Certificate that builders post in new or substantially renovated homes.

• Energy Codes Location Guide

This step-by-step guide provides building energy codes based on location and information on whether or not the code is being effectively enforced.

Documents That Explain What Energy Codes Are

Fact sheets and a PowerPoint presentation provide basic information about building energy codes and explain why they are important.

Select State Guides and Checklists

BCAP has partnered with state energy offices in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and Nebraska to create customized energy code resources for consumers in each state.

“We want to empower consumers to shop assertively for energy efficiency when they buy or renovate a home, just as they have learned to do when they shop for refrigerators and air conditioners,” Weisfeld says. “Consumers who use these new energy codes toolkits will know exactly what to look for, and which questions to ask builders, sellers and home inspectors when shopping for a home.”

BCAP and Consumers Union are also inviting consumers to become more active in state-based campaigns to educate consumers and strengthen adoption and enforcement of energy codes. Current campaigns are underway in Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio and Michigan.

For more information, visit http://www.ase.org/.

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