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Los Angeles, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 11/05/2020 -- California Title 24, a leading consultancy in the field of residential energy compliance, today addressed changes in regulations related to wall insulation, water heaters, heating and air systems, windows and solar power arising in the California Energy Commission's (CEC's) 2019 code cycle. The new energy code is 52% more stringent than its predecessor. Owners of low-rise residences may need to change in order to stay compliant with the law. In particular, the code mandates that all new low-rise residential buildings include photovoltaic panels.
"Are you building a brand-new home, brand-new detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or other low-rise residential building? If so, you are now required to have solar panels on the building," said a spokesperson for the firm. "While adding solar panels to your new building will definitely affect the cost of construction, it is not the only aspect of the energy code that will. All features of the building have been affected in some way whether you are building a new construction, remodeling, or adding an addition."
Specifically, there are new requirements for water heater efficiency, wall and roof insulation, window efficiency, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The spokesperson added, "Rather than trying to figure it all out on your own, our energy consulting experts at SoCal Title 24 can help you navigate through the code and get your building into compliance. We used a computer based performance model that enables us to model your project based on orientation, amount of windows, ceiling height, number of bedrooms, water heating, heating and air to build an air tight building envelope that is energy efficient."
The HERS Program
New construction, remodels and additions will need to go through various inspections with the city or county that controls the permitting process. HERS created the requirements for field verification and diagnostic testing services that are utilized to confirm whether or not a building is in compliance with the energy code (Title 24, Part 6: Building Energy Efficiency Standards).
Since its inception over two decades ago, the HERS program has become more integrated into design and construction with each passing cycle. The latest 2019 code cycle is no different. The policies for the building's envelope, water heating system and mechanical systems have all been revised and updated with new changes.
Building Envelope (Insulation, Doors, & Windows)
The new 2019 code cycle has dramatically changed the older 2016 code, especially for new constructions. All new constructions for low-rise residential buildings must have HERS-verified Quality Insulation Inspection (QII). This means that owners must have a HERS Rater come out and verify that the envelope insulation of the building is installed properly, and the building does not have any air leaks.
Remodels and additions are not exempt from new 2019 code mandatory measures. Consider the standard insulation value for a 2x6 wall for a new home, which depends on the climate zone. In the last 2016 code cycle (updated every 3 years), many knew that the owner needed to have a minimum of R-19 insulation in that 2x6 wall. That requirement has now changed to R-20 (U-Factor of 0.071 or less). R-20 insulation is not a readily available building material, which means that R-21 insulation is really what will be needed to meet the compliance minimum. However, oftentimes, owners will still need to add an additional insulation on the exterior of the building.
Depending on the location's climate zone, roof insulation requirements can vary. Windows and wall insulation are also affected by climate zone. In California, for climates that tend to have extreme high and low temperatures throughout the year, the previous 2016 code cycle often needed R-38 insulation at the ceiling joists of a residence with R-13 below the roof deck (between the rafters) in order to meet compliance. This has now changed to R-38 at the ceiling with a minimum of R-19 below the roof deck in order to meet compliance.
For new constructions, exterior doors are oftentimes made of wood or vinyl, with a U-Factor of 0.50, but now these doors need to be insulated with a 0.20 U-Factor. The prescriptive standard for windows from the old code cycle was 0.32 U-Factor and 0.25 SHGC. The new stricter code has brought this down further to 0.30 U-Factor and 0.23 SHGC.
Water Heating System
What changed for Water Heating? Tankless water heaters have been gaining popularity in recent years. However, there is actually a more efficient, all-electric system available on the market today that had difficulty meeting compliance in past code cycles. This system is known as the Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH). Under the new code cycle, a HPWH now has an easier time meeting code compliance so long as it meets certain requirements. One notable way it will meet code is if it is a Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) Tier 3 HPWH. However, there are other ways it can meet code depending on factors such as your climate zone and the size of the structure's photovoltaic system.
For those choosing to install a normal tanked water heater (less than or equal to 55 gallons) for their low-rise residence, they will also need to have a third party HERS technician come out to verify that the system is either a compact hot water distribution system or has a drain water heat recovery system. Using a tank becomes harder and harder to comply with when using a natural gas unit. The tanked heat pump water heater is the alterative for those who want to use a tank unit. These electric water heaters have an efficiency rating of over 200%. Although it is not required by code, it is worth noting that all new water heating systems should be rated with a Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) as opposed to the standard Energy Factor (EF). Systems that are UEF rated are able to meet code compliance much easier than the standard type.
Mechanical System: Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning
When most people think of Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning (HVAC), they tend to focus on the heating and cooling of the building. Yet, the ventilation of a residence is just as important. New to the 2019 code cycle are additional provisions for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). For example, all new or remodeled kitchens that are installing a new or replacing a kitchen range hood will need to have it HERS field tested and verified that it meets the new code standards. Also, in regard to IAQ, all new air filters must have MERV 13 efficiency.
Ductless Mini-Split HVAC systems have also been gaining popularity recently. They are a smart alternative to the standard split direct expansion (DX) systems that uses ducts, a central furnace for heating, and an outdoor condenser unit for cooling. You can now get additional credit with a Ductless Mini-Split HVAC system if it is a Variable Capacity Heat Pump (VCHP). Of course, this will also need to be HERS verified. Those choosing to use a standard gas-fired furnace should know that the air handler efficiency requirement has changed from 0.58 w/CFM to 0.45w/CFM.
With all of these new changes to the energy code, it might seem difficult to get a building into compliance, but SoCal Title 24 has been getting low-rise residential buildings into compliance for over 15 years. Its consultants are always up-to-date on the latest changes to the energy code through continued education. The firm uses the Performance Method, meaning its team utilizes CEC-certified software to produce a certificate of compliance (CF-1R) for all residential low rise projects.
SoCalTitle24.com is dedicated to providing Residential energy compliance documentation since 2006. We use the most current and latest software to provide superior accuracy to ensure City/ County approval. We generate reports for any jurisdiction in the State of California with turnaround time from 2-5 business days.
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