By Christopher Perry - ACEEE
An ACEEE analysis finds that energy efficiency and solar make complementary energy and carbon reductions in new home construction, but when budgets are tight, efficiency needs to come first. Throughout the United States, energy efficiency is more cost effective. Each month, it delivers $4 to $32 in net savings while rooftop solar alone can cost up to $14.
With the US building stock estimated to add a net average of 1.4 million homes each year, states will need to minimize their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on effective building codes and standards. For the US residential sector, building codes like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and voluntary labels like ENERGY STAR provide cost-effective guidance for insulation, windows, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment to construct efficient and sustainable homes.
Our research paper and summary show that the energy efficiency measures found in these codes and standards are more cost effective than an equivalent amount of energy generated from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Based on these results, we conclude that new homes must first be built efficiently for maximum cost effectiveness. Solar panels can then be added to further reduce carbon emissions and help homes meet zero-energy targets.