Arkansas Homebuilders Get Their Way on Energy Code

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

Ron Hughes, owner of Home Energy Rating Services of Little Rock, wanted the Arkansas Energy Code to include mandatory energy testing of new homes. The city of Fayetteville requires new homes to list an "Energy Scorecard."  (Photo of Hughes by Mark Friedman)

Lowery said the Energy Office began working on updating the residential energy code in 2012.

Hughes, the home energy rater who also is the coordinator of sustainability and energy sector programs at Pulaski Technical College, said that the energy testing is vital because homeowners don’t know how much energy their home is losing.

About 3,000 homes in Arkansas have had an energy test in the last several years, he said.

“The average duct leakage is 39 percent of design air flow,” Hughes said. “That means you’ve either just heated or cooled this air and you’re throwing it away through leaky supply ducts.”

He said most homeowners expect all new houses will be energy efficient and have low utility bills. “And that’s not the case,” Hughes said.

Having an energy performance label would give the homebuyers some idea how energy efficient their home is, he said.

In October, the draft of the energy code came before the Joint Interim Committee on Energy and was returned to the Energy Office and the Homebuilders Association to iron out a code that both sides could live with, said state Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs, who is on the energy committee and was the past president of the Arkansas Homebuilders Association.

Cozart told Arkansas Business last week that the homebuilders feared the proposed code was going to raise the price of a new home.

And the ones who were going to profit from the new energy codes were the ones supporting the energy audits — the energy raters, he said. “So I kind of felt that was a one-sided deal from them,” Cozart said.

In addition, Cozart said, he wasn’t sure potential homebuyers want to have an energy audit to comparison shop. “Not everyone wants their house to cost more money; most people want it to cost less,” he said.



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