Energy consultancy offers flat fee report to enable contractors, architects and homeowners achieve compliance with the 2019 Energy Code.
Los Angeles, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 11/10/2020 -- Southern California Title 24, a leading consultancy in the field of residential energy compliance, today shared regulatory guidance that corrects the misconception that California homeowners cannot build an all-electric home. The firm is providing its research and insights to help architects, contracts and homeowners better understand the changes in the California code and comply with the law without relying on natural gas.
"The 2019 Energy Code is a bit confusing, to put it mildly," said a spokesperson for the firm. "There's a myth that it's impossible to become all-electric. Yet, if you understand how the 2016 code has changed, you can start to see how easy it can be to become compliant and create an all-electric home, free from natural gas." Southern California Title 24 provides a flat fee report to clients to aid in compliance efforts. He added, "Thinking of building an all-electric home? It can definitely meet energy code compliance, but you'll need to follow a few guidelines. At SoCal Title 24, we know exactly how to get your all-electric home into compliance."
The latest 2019 code cycle has brought with it some big changes. For example, under Title 24, Part 6 of the Energy Code, 2020 is the year in which all new construction is required to be Zero Net Energy (ZNE). This change in the law allows for the construction of all-electric buildings. Photovoltaic panels are now required for all new low-rise residential constructions that are not an alteration or an addition to an existing building.
With these new changes, more and more people are moving away from using fossil fuels like natural gas. In fact, there are some cities, such as Berkeley, San Jose and Santa Rosa that have already adopted an all-electric policy eliminating natural gas from new residential constructions altogether. Dozens more have pledged to follow suit.
The Benefit of Going All-Electric
There are many benefits to going all-electric. Although the upfront cost can be higher, an all-electric home will actually save the owner money in the long run in comparison to a mixed fuel home. Having an all-electric home is also safer during earthquakes, which California is notorious for having. There is no risk of fire occurring, since there are no gas lines that could be ruptured.
The owner's health and well-being also benefit. With gas-fired stoves and fireplaces, toxic gas leaks always pose a threat to indoor air quality. Mixed fuel homes pose the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This colorless, odorless, poisonous gas can be fatal if it leaks into a home. All-electric homes don't have this issue. Overall, an all-electric home can also be much more efficient than a mixed fuel home. Today, the advancement of technology has led to more efficient water heaters and HVAC systems leading to more savings for the owner.
Advantages of Using a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH)
Water heating is a confusing area of the new regulations. Without gas, one would think that electric water heaters would be acceptable to the state. However, the California Energy Commission (CEC) does not recognize these units as being energy efficient. It is very difficult to meet code compliance with an electric water heater as the main water heating source.
The solution, according to Southern California Title 24, is to use another all-electric alternative known as the Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH). This type of water heater uses a heat pump similar to the one in an air conditioner and refrigerator. To heat water, it draws heat from its surroundings using refrigerant and a compressor. HPWH are not tankless. Instead, they have a storage tank similar to the old gas-fired ones that everyone is used to.
"HPWH are actually some of the most efficient water heaters out there," the spokesperson noted. "Standard gas-fired water heaters typically have an efficiency of 60%. The more modern gas-fired tankless systems are about 80 to 90% efficient. These HPWHs can be 200-300% efficient! There is one catch, though. In previous code cycles, you could use just about any HPWH and it would meet compliance. This has since changed under the new code cycle. In order to meet code compliance, oftentimes the HPWH has to be rated by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and has to fall into Tier 3 of their standards."
Success with All-Electric Heating, Ventilation and Air Cooling (HVAC)
All-electric HVAC systems are nothing new. A traditional HVAC system utilizes a gas furnace to heat up the air of a home and an air conditioning unit to cool the air. The air conditioning unit is basically another heat pump that uses refrigerant to draw heat from the warm air inside and expel that heat to the outside. Rather than use two fuel sources, gas and electricity, all-electric HVAC systems use the heat pump for both heating and cooling. It does this by controlling or reversing the flow of refrigerant in the system. Although it may not seem like it in very cold climates, heat pumps are still a viable option since there is still energy in cold air. Anything above absolute zero (- 459.67°F / - 273.15°C) technically still has energy.
Going all-electric can also qualify a home for additional energy compliance credits. There is now a new credit for Variable Capacity Heat Pump (VCHP) systems. Rather than heat or cool the entire home as only one or two zones, these systems are much more efficient. VCHP systems can vary the flow of refrigerant to each individual room of the home. Using this credit does trigger an inspection by a HERS Rater to make sure that the system is installed properly and meets the requirements for energy compliance.
Photovoltaic Panels, Batteries and Appliances
The new 2019 energy code compliance is now based off of two different scores for brand new constructions. One score is based off of the building features such as building envelope, water heater, and HVAC, while the second score is based off of the photovoltaic system of the building. Both scores must pass to for the building to meet compliance.
"One key thing to note is that you cannot trade off the photovoltaic score for the other score," said the spokesperson. "In other words, for example, you can't oversize your photovoltaic system so that you can have more glazing or decrease wall insulation. But if everything in the home is all-electric, won't that negatively impact the score? Won't you need to increase the size of the PV system? While you might want to have a larger size PV system to handle the total load of your all-electric home, it is not necessary to meet energy code compliance. At this time, the energy compliance software compares your building to a standard mixed-fuel home. This means that anything that is potentially fueled by gas, such as your stove, HVAC furnace, and water heater, is removed from the calculation. If you're building a brand new home, you will notice on the CF1R compliance report that the PV requirement is very minimal and your actual system will probably be much larger."
According to Southern California Title 24, adding a battery to a home can also give the owner extra compliance credit. They are also a smart way to get a home completely off of the power grid if that's what the customer wants. A battery coupled with a PV system can provide energy for a home whether the sun is shining or not. Batteries are also the only compliance credit under the PV score that can be traded off for the building features score.
Though the compliance scores are based on mixed fuel homes, if an owner is going all-electric, it's worth mentioning that all of his or her appliances can now be all-electric, too. There are now induction cooktops and heat pump clothes dryers in addition to the heat pump water heaters and HVAC systems aforementioned. There are even realistic looking all-electric 3D fireplaces.
For people who are building an all-electric home or are considering switching to one, SoCal Title 24 can help. The firm's expert consultants know exactly how to get an all-electric building into compliance.
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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