Reader Cobra asked about the Jim Himes Memorial Carbon Tax bill’s requirement for energy audits of residential homes so I looked into it and by golly, it’s a doozy. So far, the best I could come up with is a copy of the Henry Waxman draft dated May 19, 2009 but I’m pretty sure this was what was enacted. The bill is here, all 926 pages of it, which doesn’t include the extra 300 pages slapped ontop at the last minute.
Energy audits begin in Section 204 (page 264) but the fun begins with Section 201 (p. 214), which establishes a new National Energy Efficiency Code. As of January 1, 2014 new homes must be 50% more energy efficient than today’s, with a 5% iincrease every three years thereafter until 2029, for a total reduction improvement of 75%. The law is mandatory on states and towns and here’s a chilling provision: it shall be a violation of this Act for any home owner or builder to occupy, permit occupancy or convey a building that does not meet this code. So much for the hippie who wants to build a dome or log cabin in the woods. For that matter, a tepee isn’t going to cut it, either. You fans of big government might want to consider the implications of a government large and powerful enough to reach out to the local building department of Lowell, Vermont and tell it to toss people out of their homes. Or perhaps you might not – it’s ugly.
Section 204 Mandatory energy audits and ratings. Applies to any home that undergoes a renovation or addition but in practice, will reach all existing homes that are offered for sale (banks and/or buyers have started demanding it in those few states who already have such programs). The state, acting through your building department, sends Elmer Fudd to your home to conduct an energy audit and develops an energy use label similar to that found on an automobile or icebox. It’s recorded in the land records. No mention of who wil pay Elmer to conduct this audit but you can bet it will be your property taxes. Now imagine what happens to the value of your house when you fail the energy audit. At the very least, it will give the buyer another means to knock down your price, and count on it, he’ll use it.
Implications. My immediate problem with this legislation is that it extends the reach of the federal government even further into our lives but for those who don’t share my Libertarian concerns, there are practical issues as well. Right now, foam insulation is at least 15% more expensive than fiberglass, “green” windows at least that much more than regular double-pained, and so on. But 15% more to insulate a house is just the beginning because Waxman et als want more than is even available now. If your 1969 house, renovated through the years, isn’t a teardwon now, it sure will be by 2014. Hope you like yur land’s value, because that’s what you’ll be left with.
I just browsed 70 pages or so of this 926 page bill which, as noted, swelled to over 1,200 pages in the wee hours of the night. Every page is filled with mischief, every page has new, expensive obligations for citizens of this country and only the lobbyists know what those obilgations are. I believe Mr. Himes owes his constituents the duty to take the entire bill home with him during the upcoming holiday break and read it, digest it and report back to us. There’s some startling stuff in here – did I mention new lighting standards? That starts at around page 271.