Efficiency First is the voice of the home performance industry at the federal, state and local level, working to remove barriers to market growth, and put in place the kinds of policies that will help the home performance industry scale. Our efforts are focused on a number of key initiatives that will stimulate rapid growth and local job creation in the home performance industry.
Moving the industry forward
The EPA has proposed new federal regulations on power plants that will limit the amount of carbon emissions. We've put together a quick primer that outlines how the new proposed rule may impact the home performance industry. Click here to check it out.
25C Tax Credit
Tax credits to a home owner for an incremental energy efficiency improvement in the home (windows, insulation, etc.). The 25C tax credit expired at the end of 2013. Efficiency First supports extending the 25C tax credit, updating it to match efficiency levels in today's products, and extending it to include labor costs as eligible under the credit (the previous credit only allowed for a credit toward material costs).
25E: The Cut Energy Bills at Home Act
The Cut Energy Bills at Home Act was introduced in the last congress with bipartisan support. If passed, the bill would create a new 25e tax credit -- the first residential performance-based tax credit given to homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements. The proposed bill would provide performance-based tax credits of up to $5,000 per project for homeowners who install qualified energy efficiency measures. To learn more about the bill, download our 25e Fact Sheet.
"Electric Consumer Right to Know Act” or “E-Know"
In May 2011, Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced S. 1029, the “Electric Consumer Right to Know Act” or “E-Know". Efficiency First applauds the legislation as an important step to ensure that a home owner, or a third party they designate, will have easy access to their electricity usage information. While Efficiency First supports the legislation as a key step toward energy data access, we recommend members of Congress consider expanding this, or subsequent legislation, to include access to natural gas data.
Why is this important? Energy efficiency programs around the country are handicapped by the inability of the customer to easily obtain ongoing information on the performance results of their home's energy efficiency. All program participants (contractors, state officials, consumers, community development institutions, etc) need to be able to measure and verify energy savings resulting from the installation of energy retrofits on an on-going, aggregated and verifiable basis. Without cost effective access to verifiable results, demand for energy-efficiency retrofits will be difficult to affect the behavior of those who may require more proof of the cost-effectiveness of such retrofits. By allowing those purchasing electricity to simply have access to the data about their energy use, Congress returns the power over their home and their energy consumption to the energy user.
Financing and PACE alternatives
Efficiency First believes in providing a variety of traditional and creative financing options for customers to use for energy efficiency retrofits.
The SAVE Act was introduced in the US Senate in October 2011. in early 2014, it was included in discussions on the Senate's Shaheen-Portman legislation. It proposes changes to the home financing process; when applying for a mortgage a home’s energy use would be included as a factor to help determine financing eligibility. The reasoning behind this is that in some locations the cost of energy is extremely high, so customers who are purchasing energy efficient homes would have an easier time qualifying for financing and existing homeowners would be encouraged to make energy efficiency upgrades. This bill has received a wide-range of support, including from the Appraisal Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce. The Institute for Market Transformation and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy conducted a study and found that this act would create over 82,000 jobs and savings of $1.1 billion for consumer energy prices by 2020.
A "performance path" offers an incentive to households that choose to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and then implement a variety of measures that are designed together to provide greater total returns in energy savings. The performance path means that state-of-the-art building science is used to identify problems, present solutions and deliver verifiable energy savings, generating confidence among homeowners and investors alike. This technology-neutral approach is based on performance, not specific products, so market forces will direct funds to solutions that achieve the best results. A certified professional with accreditation from the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) or an approved equivalent conducts an energy audit before work begins, and a test-out when the performance retrofit is complete. Consumers receive incentives based on their modeled energy savings.
State and Local Advocacy
Efficiency First chapters conduct policy work at the state and local levels. Learn more about what are chapters are up to, or get involved by clicking here.