Information is power. Think about all of the consumer labels we use every day to make the best decisions: nutritional facts on our food products, and miles-per-gallon (MPG) labels on our cars to name just a couple. But when it comes to the energy costs and emissions of our homes and buildings, Utahns are left in the dark!
Understanding the energy costs and emissions from our homes plays a central role in improving air quality. By 2024, the Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that “area sources” of local air pollution emissions, which include our homes and businesses, will be the largest category of Utah air pollution. We can do something about this by making our homes more energy efficient, which has the added benefit of also making homes more comfortable and more affordable by keeping utility bills low.
A “home energy label” (sometimes called a “home energy score” or “home energy rating”) is a tool to help you understand how efficient your home is and provide clear recommendations about what energy improvements would reduce your energy costs and emission footprint. Just as MPG ratings drive the demand for fuel-efficient cars, home energy labels will increase demand for highly efficient new homes and encourage energy improvements to existing homes.
Utah Clean Energy wants to make home energy labels easy to access in real estate transactions, such as in the Wasatch Front Regional MLS or Zillow.
Utah made exciting strides towards this goal when (now former) Representative Patrice Arent sponsored House Bill 235 during the 2020 Utah Legislative Session. This bill set the stage for home energy labeling in Utah by, among other things, directing the Utah Office of Energy Development to convene an expert advisory committee and develop a plan for a voluntary home energy labeling program in the Beehive State.
DEVELOPING A MODEL FOR A HOME ENERGY LABEL PILOT PROGRAM
Utah’s Office of Energy Development worked with staff from NASEO to incorporate advisory committee feedback into a final report that included model rules for a home energy labeling pilot program. Utah Clean Energy’s Building Efficiency and Decarbonization Program Director, Kevin Emerson, served as a member of the advisory committee to help shape a model program to work out the rules and details of what a home energy label program should look like.
The model rules, which were submitted to the Utah Legislature in November 2021, lay out a pathway for the State of Utah to launch a home energy labeling program. What’s more, the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed by Congress in November 2021, includes state level funding for home energy audits, upgrades, and workforce development and aligns perfectly with the launch of a statewide home energy labeling program!
Utah is well-positioned to launch this kind of program, which will help spur home energy improvements to existing homes and support the market for high performance net-zero homes. Utah Clean Energy is actively monitoring this issue and encouraging the State of Utah to implement a home energy labeling program.