The State of California has an Energy Commission charged with updating laws intended to curb “wasteful and unnecessary energy consumption” in new construction and existing properties.
The commission regularly updates a set of state Building Energy Efficiency Standards under Title 24, Parts 6 and 11. If you are interested in going solar, the information in Title 24 may apply directly to your needs. It will be very important to know relevant parts of Title 24, how frequently it gets updated, and what those updates mean for you.
Title 24 requirements establish energy efficiency standards for new construction as well as those for existing construction properties. These requirements are intended to save money on utility costs, reduce energy waste, and contribute toward proposed recovery from the global climate crisis.
These standards are reviewed once every three years; they were updated in 2020 including changes to solar energy mandates for the state; California state law now requires solar energy to be a standard feature in all new construction housing. This is a first in the United States.
As mentioned above, the State of California made history in 2020 by requiring all new homes to include technology known as solar photovoltaic systems for collecting and storing solar energy.
The mandate does include some common-sense exceptions such as for new construction where the roof is physically too small to accommodate such a system and for homes that do not have sufficient sun exposure.
These solar systems must be sufficiently powerful to allow solar to make up the “full annual energy usage” of the property. The overall size of these systems is expected to be between 2.7 kilowatts and 5.7 kilowatts under the 2020 Title 24 rules.
The 2020 mandate was further supplemented by a 2022 California Energy Code update that included revisions not exclusive to solar power; the measures that do pertain to solar are fairly important and forward-thinking.
One example? Requiring homes to be electric-ready. This, according to EnergyCodes.gov, is when new homes are built with fossil fuel technology (natural gas appliances, propane-powered appliances, etc.) but created to “easily accommodate” new types of energy-saving appliances, too. That could mean solar or any number of other options.
The 2022 Energy Code addresses some important issues applicable to both new homes and new business development in the state.
- Expanding the solar photovoltaic system and battery storage standards with a goal to establish (over time) a “fully green” or “fully clean energy” electric grid within the state.
- Modification of indoor air standards to improve indoor air quality.
- Measures that promote electric pump technology for space and water heating (more efficient than gas-powered options).
- Continuing to develop electric-ready requirements for single-family homes including electric vehicle charging options.
The 2022 Energy Code updates include a campaign to improve indoor air quality (see below) and be made ready to potentially use more solar options. This applies to new residential construction, and anticipates fully abandoning gas power in the future in favor of a green energy grid as mentioned above.
The details of these updates include the following from the California Energy Commission:
- Homes are required to be electric ready, which in this case means “dedicated 240-volt outlets and space” so electric appliances may replace less efficient gas-powered appliances.
- Provides exceptions under the law when a home is too small to accommodate solar panels.
- Alterations to minimum kitchen ventilation standards to improve air quality, and reduce pollution from gas cooking.
Aside from the cost benefits of more efficient appliances, the world is (however slowly) moving away from fossil-based energy in favor of more sustainable alternatives like solar power and wind energy.
Creating new homes that will be spared from the kind of obsolescence created by the (eventual) death of fossil fuels is absolutely necessary to prevent a technology gap for standard household operations like cooking and cleaning. As one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States, California really can’t afford to think any other way about the future of clean energy and how it will be used in the state’s energy grid.
Solar panels absorb energy from the sun which can be used during daylight hours to power your home. At night, solar energy stored in a battery system can be used to power the home. But if you do not have a battery system installed, there is no way to draw power unless you are drawing from the electrical grid. The battery system is key for dealing with rolling blackouts, brown-outs, and other electrical system problems.
The California Clean Energy Commission says compliance with Title 24 may change the initial cost for a single-family home development and it’s estimated the increase could be just over $8,000. That extra expense could be offset over the first decade of use of the more efficient home.
And over time, the state saves money too. The 2022 Energy Code is expected to save about $1.5 billion over three decades.
Private homes and public businesses are responsible for most of California’s energy consumption; about 70% according to some sources. The mandates published under Title 24 include a once-every-three-years review of building standards to further enhance efficiency and reduce dependence on fossil fuel within the state.
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