WASHINGTON — Legislation introduced by Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) would encourage home builders to seek products — including HVAC systems — that increase energy efficiency, promote energy conservation in new and existing homes, and help reduce America's dependence on oil imports, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"The housing provisions in H.R. 1459, the ‘Save America's Valuable Energy Resources Act of 2003,’ would provide powerful incentives for builders to provide the best and most energy efficient insulation and heating and cooling units in the 1.35 million new single-family homes expected to be built this year. In these uncertain times, it represents a huge step forward in reducing the nation's energy dependence on imported oil and will lower energy costs for American home owners and renters for decades to come," stated Jerry Howard, executive vice president and CEO of NAHB.

"I believe it is important to have a balanced approach to our national energy policy of new sources, better conservation, long-range goals, and short-term relief," said Weller. "With American homes consuming roughly 20 percent of the nation's energy, increased energy efficiency in the home will help to provide a measure of short-term relief with long-range benefits."

For new home construction, the legislation would provide builders with a voluntary tax credit of $2,000 for each home built to 30 percent above the 1998 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This would spur builders to invest in market- and technology-driven initiatives that would promote higher levels of energy efficiency at more reasonable costs, said Howard. "It will reward the builder who will take the additional risks of building higher energy efficiency into new homes. In turn, builders will have an incentive to market their energy efficient homes to consumers, spurring demand for higher energy efficiency homes in the market at an affordable price."

For rental properties, the bill includes a tax deduction of $2.25 per square foot for buildings that are 50 percent more efficient than American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards. This incentive would help increase energy conservation efforts for multifamily residential buildings and low-income dwellings, noted Howard.

H.R. 1459 also provides consumers with a tax credit of up to $2,000 on the cost of qualified home remodeling projects that improve energy efficiency. "Older, existing homes are much less energy efficient, and this would enable millions of households to engage in voluntary measures to conserve energy and reduce their utility costs," said Howard.

While similar legislation is pending in the Senate, Howard said the broader measures included in the House bill would enable more households to engage in voluntary measures to conserve energy.

Publication date: 03/31/2003