Greater Home Code Compliance Could Reduce Energy Bills, Emissions

Aug 2, 2019

A study recently found that roughly three-quarters of new homes in Montana meet state energy codes meant to curb electricity bills and increase durability.

The Montana Residential Energy Code Field Study estimates that upping code compliance could save nearly $192,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18-hundred metric tons annually statewide.

The state energy code helps builders make sure things like insulation, heating and lighting in newly constructed homes meet minimum requirements for efficiency and effectiveness.

The current code, which the state adopted in 2014, is in the process of being updated.

Dale Horton is an energy specialist at the National Center for Appropriate Technology and reviewed the findings in the recent study.

He says that the 75 percent compliance is pretty encouraging.

“We’ve introduced some new technologies over the last 12, 15 years, including actual testing houses for tightness, testing ducts for tightness, and the study shows we’re doing pretty doggone good,” says Horton.

Horton sees energy codes as the foundation of clean energy solutions.

“What they do is provide homeowners with an assurance that their home is minimally energy efficient and the way some of the things are addressed in the energy code also have to do with the durability and sustainability of the building,” he says.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance sampled 125 homes, mostly in Billings and Bozeman, for its study for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

While the state has seen an 11 percent compliance increase from 2012, DEQ says two-thirds of new homes in the state are built in areas where compliance inspections are not required - usually outside city limits.

DEQ is trying to build compliance through education and training.