Report: Advanced Solar Homes Can Cut Costs in Rio Grande Valley
AUSTIN — With nearly 2.2 million new homes likely to be built in Texas in the next twenty years, a new report finds that building these homes with energy-efficient technology and solar energy systems would reduce homeowners’ energy bills by $5.4 billion—a net savings of $480 per household per year. Environment Texas Research and Policy Center’s report, “Building for a Clean Energy Future”, also demonstrated that homes with energy efficient and solar technologies cut pollution and save water.
“Everyone knows solar panels and energy saving measures in the home are good for the environment. Our report shows that they are also good for the pocketbook," said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas "And net-zero energy homes, which combine energy efficiency, clean energy like solar panels, and common sense design aren't something out of the Jetsons, they’re already available right here in Texas."
The report finds that increasing the construction of net-zero energy homes over the next decade such that, by 2020, all new homes met the standard, would contribute significant environmental and economic benefits to the state. The report finds that by 2030, Texas would:
- Reduce homeowners’ energy bills by more $5.4 billion. With incentive programs available now, a net-zero energy home could cost about $40 per month less to own than a standard home.
- Save more than 25 billion kilowatt hours per year – eliminating the need to build seven large (500 MW) coal-fired power plants.
- Prevent 18 million metric tons of global warming pollution, the equivalent of making one of every six cars and trucks in Texas pollution-free.
- Cut smog pollution by 7.5 million pounds.
- Save 10 billion gallons of water.
The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area would save 1.47 billion kilowatt hours per year in 2030, avoiding the need for 205 megawatts of electricity (the size of a typical natural gas plant). Homeowners would save $318 million per year on their energy bills.
“Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation,” said Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa. “That is why - for the past two sessions - I have pushed legislation to have the State set the example by building high performance buildings. If we move on opportunities like net-zero homes, Texas benefits in the short term by creating local jobs during the construction process and in the long term by protecting Texas families from skyrocketing electric bills.”
Two Texas agencies are currently considering rules to help promote solar power and energy efficiency. First, Comptroller Susan Combs and the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) are expected to decide this fall whether to adopt the latest efficiency standards for new homes. The standards would require new homes to be approximately 15% more energy efficient than currently required. Environment Texas Research and Policy Center urged Comptroller Combs and SECO to adopt the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code and require homebuilders to comply within one year of adoption.
Second, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas will soon consider new requirements on Texas electric companies to provide incentives for homeowners for solar power and energy efficiency. Current law requires electric utilities to offset part of the growth in electric demand with energy efficiency programs, including rebates for “Energy Star” homes. The group urged Governor Perry and the PUC to create a statewide solar rebate program and to increase spending on energy efficiency by 150%.