A RECENT REPORT FROM THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DOE) shows that new code changes to the residential energy requirements of the International Energy Conservation Code—specifically the need to increase wall insulation values—will take between 40 and 90 years to provide an energy cost savings to homeowners. Depending on the climate, the changes will add an estimated cost of $600 to a new home while offering a savings of approximately $15 per year in energy costs because many insulation types, including spray-in cellulose and expanding foam, could not achieve the prescribed ratings without the construction of two-by-six walls.

In late 2003, the DOE proposed a variety of reforms to help home builders simplify mandatory compliance, making overall changes to the IECC. However, a modification to increase wall insulation requirements (R-values) in wood-framed walls, was approved by the International Code Council as part of the 2004 supplement to the original code. Both the DOE and NAHB have opposed the changes, and the DOE organized this cost-benefit analysis to provide support for additional reforms during the next round of code hearings.

“NAHB supports building codes that promote energy efficiency, but home buyers should not bear the burden for expensive new requirements that provide little benefit,” says Jerry Howard, CEO of the NAHB. “We applaud the Department of Energy for conducting this important analysis and for making their non-biased finding public.”