Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities

TDHCA Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule

Energy Efficiency Measures in TDHCA Single Family Programs

The purpose of the proposed sections is to set forth Minimum Energy Efficiency requirements for new construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation activities in Single Family Programs in accordance with Texas Government Code §2306.187. §2306.187 requires the Department to develop a rule relating to the minimum energy efficiency requirements for construction activities in the Department's Single Family Programs, including housing rehabilitation.

Additionally, Chapter 388 of the Health and Safety Code provides authority to adopt energy conservation codes to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO).

SECO, through the Texas Administrative Code (34 TAC §19.53), adopted Chapter 11 of the 2009 IRC as the energy code for the State of Texas and was made effective on January 1, 2012.

New construction and reconstruction activities supported through the Department's Single Family Programs shall comply with either Chapter 11 of the 2009 IRC or be Energy Star certified.

The measures identified in rehabilitation projects are typical measures that can be affordably completed on existing housing.

Home Energy Efficiency Measures Enhance Home Affordability and Benefits Everyone

The Department's proposed single family home energy efficiency requirements, which become effective in late 2014, will apply to all new affordable single family home construction and home rehabilitation activities supported through TDHCA's Single Family Housing Programs.

The new requirements are designed to enhance home affordability by reducing household utility costs. This is particularly important to lower income households who typically spend on average between 20% - 25% of their after tax income on utility bills. Meanwhile, households earning more than 80% AMFI typically spend between 3% - 5% of their after tax income on utility bills.1 In essence, the lower the household income, the higher the percentage of after tax income spent on utilities.

Texas Family Energy Costs as Percent of After-Tax Income

Less than $10K: 68%; $10-30K:23%;$30-50K:16%;$50K+:8%
Source: Energy Cost Impacts on Texas Families. American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. February 2013.

About Home Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient features offer better protection from cold in the winter, heat in the summer, air drafts, moisture infiltration. Energy efficient homes use significantly less energy for heating, cooling and water heating. The savings have proven to be between 20%-30% per year on energy bills.

Household Benefits of Home Energy Efficiency

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, implementing home energy efficiency measures can help households reduce their annual energy bills by an estimated average of $750.2

An affordable, energy efficient home offers low- to moderate-income households the benefits of lower utility bills, a healthy living environment, and the ability to redirect limited funds toward other costs, such as food and medicine.

Helping the state's lower income households meet their utility costs and avoid a potential health or financial crisis can help them achieve greater self-sufficiency and financial stability in the long term.

Community Benefits of Home Energy Efficiency

The integration of home energy efficiency measures into the Department's single family programs may be realized locally through enhanced economic stability.

The "Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks" study, released in March 2013 by the University of North Carolina and the Institute for Market Transformation, found that the risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for Energy Star certified homes.

Statewide Benefits of Home Energy Efficiency

Home energy efficiency benefits everyone by decreasing the demand on the state's electric grid, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.1

The Department has similarly integrated energy conservation into its affordable multifamily housing development programs, per statute.


1. In 2005, the typical U.S. family with an annual after tax income of $52,000 spent nearly 9% of its budget on utility bills. The 61 million families (the majority of U.S. households) that earn less than $50,000 annually devoted nearly 20% of their after tax income on utility bills. Source: Building Energy Star Qualified Homes, HUD, 2008.

Texas households with incomes of below 50% of the Federal Poverty Level pay 74.4% of their after tax income on utility bills. According to the 2000 Census, more than 489,000 Texas households live with an income at or below 50% Federal Poverty Level. Source: On the Brink: 2011. Fisher, Sheehan & Colton, Public Finance and General Economics, Belmont, MA, 2012.

In 2012, American families earning less than $10,000 a year spent 78% of their after tax income on utility bills; families earning between $10,000 and $30,000 spent 24%; families earning between $30,000 and $50,000 spent 17%. Source: Energy Cost Impacts on American Families, 2001-2012. American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. February 2012.

2. http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/topics/residential.html

 

Timeline on Energy Efficiency Rule

On October 10, 2013, the proposed rule will be presented to the TDHCA board for approval and the beginning of the public comment period. On December 12, 2013, the rule, taking into consideration the public comments received, will be presented to the TDHCA board for final adoption.

The public comment period will be held from October 25, 2013 to November 25, 2013, to receive input on the new sections. Written comments may be submitted to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Brooke Boston, Rule Comments, P.O. Box 13941, Austin, Texas 78711-3941, or by fax to (512) 475-2365. ALL COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY 5 P.M, November 25, 2013.

Compliance with the rule will go into effect one year later from the date of final adoption, in December 2014. All construction activities permitted or otherwise begun after this date shall comply with the rule.

Prior to the effective date, TDHCA will be conducting regular trainings on the rule and the basics of the energy provisions in the 2009 International Residential Code, Energy Star qualified homes, and measures to be included in housing rehabilitation activities.

Information Sessions

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs' Single Family Division announces the following information session schedule for the proposed rule regarding Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements for Single Family Construction Activities.

Although staff will consider the comments that are made during these sessions, they will not become part of the official public comment records. These information sessions are designed to supplement the official public comment period that will be held October 25, 2013 to November 25, 2013.

Please note that the information sessions for the new energy efficiency rules are combined with roundtables for the Single Family HOME Program Rule. Approximate start times are noted below. Registration is required.

INFORMATION SESSION DATES:

Thursday 10/17/13
1:30pm - 4:00pm
(note: the energy efficiency rule session will begin at approximately 2:30pm)
McKinney, Texas
McKinney City Hall
Second Floor Conference Room
222 N Tennessee St
McKinney TX 75069
Seating is limited to 30 individuals, please register attendance at: https://mckinneyroundtable.eventbrite.com/

Wednesday 10/23/13
9:00am - 12:00pm
(note: the energy efficiency rule session will begin at approximately 10am)
San Antonio, Texas
HF Garcia Federal Bldg/ US Courthouse
Room 323/327
615 E Houston St
San Antonio TX 78205
Seating is limited to 50 individuals, please register attendance at:
https://sahomeroundtable.eventbrite.com/
**Parking $10 - 15 per day or metered parking; all items scanned; ID required

Wednesday 10/30/13
9:00am - 12:00pm
(note: the energy efficiency rule session will begin at approximately 10am)
Austin, Texas
Thomas Jefferson Rusk Building
Room 320
208 E 10th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
Seating is limited to 40 individuals, please register attendance at:
https://austinhomeroundtable.eventbrite.com/

Additional general information, input or questions

For questions, feedback and comments, please email the Department at energyefficiency@tdhca.state.tx.us or visit TDHCA's online forum for Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements for Single Family Construction Activities. The purpose of this forum is to provide responses to common and frequently asked questions. Please note that this forum does not constitute official public comment on the rules.

Proposed Rule

§ 21.1 Purpose

  1. Texas Government Code §2306.187 requires that the Department develop and adopt rules relating to Minimum Energy Efficiency requirements for new construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation activities in Single Family Programs.
  2. This chapter describes the Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements for all Single Family Construction Activities, which includes the Department's HOME Investments Partnership Program (HOME), Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Office of Colonia Initiatives (OCI) Programs and other Single Family Programs as developed by the Department.
  3. Single Family Programs are designed to improve and provide affordable housing opportunities to low-income individuals in Texas and in accordance with Chapter 2306 of the Texas Government Code, and any applicable statutes and federal regulations.

§21.2 Applicability

Unless otherwise noted, this chapter only applies to Single Family Programs. Program Rules may impose additional requirements related to any provision of this chapter. Where Program Rules conflict with this chapter, the provisions of this chapter will control program decisions, unless it is a federal requirement.

§21.3 Definitions

  1. Any capitalized terms that are defined in Texas Government Code, Chapter 2306 and Chapter 1 (relating to Administration) and Chapter 20 (relating to Single Family Programs Umbrella Rule), or other Department rules have, when capitalized, the meanings ascribed to them therein.
  2. The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings unless the context or the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) indicates otherwise.
    1. Energy Star Certified Appliances, Equipment, and Products--Labled appliances, equipment, and products that are independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality, meeting the EPA's specifications for energy efficiency and performance.
    2. Energy Star Certified Home--A new home that has earned the Energy Star label and has undergone a process of inspections, testing, and verification to meet requirements set forth by the US EPA.
    3. RESNET—Residential Energy Services Network. RESNET is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1995 to help homeowners reduce the cost of their utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient. RESNET certified Home Energy Systems Raters are required to inspect, test, and verify homes for Energy Star certification.
    4. WaterSense Certified Fixtures--Labeled products that are backed by independent, third–party testing and certification, meeting the EPA's specifications for water efficiency and performance.
    5. US EPA—United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  3. Defined terms when not capitalized, are to be read in context and construed according to common usage.

§21.4 General Requirements

The following general requirements shall apply to all single family construction activities.

  1. This chapter shall go into effect on December 12, 2014. All construction activities permitted or otherwise begun after this date shall comply with this chapter.
  2. Local residential building codes that exceed some or all parts of this chapter shall take precedence.
  3. A final inspection conducted by Administrators confirming compliance with this chapter shall be required for release of final payment from the Department.
  4. All appliances, equipment, and fixtures installed or replaced shall be Energy Star or WaterSense certified products.

§21.5 New Construction and Reconstruction Activities

Single family detached residential dwellings up to three stories high, including townhouses, that are newly constructed or reconstructed shall comply with this chapter in one of the following two ways.

  1. Compliance with the energy efficiency provisions of the International Residential Code as they existed on May 1, 2009; or
  2. Compliance with the Energy Star Certified Homes Program as demonstrated through RESNET-approved procedures.

§21.6 Housing Rehabilitation Activities

  1. A proposed scope of work and awarded construction contract for existing single family residential dwellings that are rehabilitated shall contain, at a minimum, six of the following fourteen measures.
    1. Airsealing of all penetrations in the building envelop in accordance with Section N1102.4.1 of the 2009 International Residential Code. Exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens are required if Airsealing is completed.
    2. Airsealing of ductwork located in unconditioned spaces in accordance with Section M1601.4.1 of the 2009 International Residential Code. Ductwork located in unconditioned spaces shall be insulated to R-8.
    3. Attic insulation shall be increased to R-30 (R-38 in Climate Zone 4 as defined by Figure N1101.2 of the 2009 International Residential Code), including insulation covering the top plates of exterior walls. Baffles shall be installed in framing bays of existing soffit vents.
    4. Attic accesses shall be insulated in accordance with Section N1102.2.3 of the 2009 International Residential Code.
    5. Energy Star certified ceiling fans with light(s) shall be installed in each bedroom and in the main living space.
    6. Inoperable windows requiring replacement shall be replaced with Energy Star certified windows for southern climates, meeting the U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient for the climate zone of the dwelling as identified in Table N1101.2 of the 2009 International Residential Code.
    7. Windows located on eastern and western facing walls shall have solar shades permanently installed.
    8. South facing windows shall have permanently installed overhangs sized to keep summer sun from entering the home while allowing winter sun to enter the home. Flashing details shall maintain a positive drainage plane.
    9. Exterior doors requiring replacement shall be replaced with Energy Star certified exterior doors.
    10. All incandescent light bulbs in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, and the main living area shall be replaced with Energy Star certified compact florescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
    11. WaterSense certified sink faucets and showerheads shall be installed in all bathrooms and the kitchen. If existing sinks are operable and do not need to be replaced, WaterSense Qualified aerators shall be installed.
    12. Exhaust fans venting to the exterior shall be installed in all bathrooms and the kitchen in accordance with Chapter 15 of the 2009 International Residential Code.
    13. Replacement or installation of central heating and cooling equipment shall be sized as specified in Section M1401.3 of the 2009 International Residential Code.
    14. Weatherstripping existing and operable exterior doors and windows.
  2. If one or more of these measures are existing and in operable condition, they may be counted as a required measure.