Saturday, July 19, 2014

Build Solar Ready Homes in Solar Rich Texas

Pursuant to 34 TAC §19.52, the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) is accepting written comments through August 4, 2014 on the energy efficiency provisions of the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) for single-family residential construction and the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for all commercial and residential construction. These written comments can be provided by email.

(See -

Included in the 2015 IRC is "Appendix U-Solar-Ready Provisions", an appendix describing provisions for building new homes solar ready.

Readers are requested to email SECO (at no later than August 4, 2014 to encourage the state and local jurisdictions to adopt Appendix U as a requirement for new homes built across Texas.

Some background: 50-60 years ago, new homes being built began to widely adopt the new technology of residential central air conditioning.  The designs and building codes for homes were adapted to accommodate the changes necessary to add this new major home appliance technology. It was a wonderful technology greatly increasing the comfort and livability for Texas citizens.  So much so, the population of Texas began to grow dramatically.  Also at the same time, undoubtedly the electricity demand began to grow across the state, and in particular the peak demand began to grow with heavy air conditioning use during our long sunny summer afternoons. Not only because more people came to live in Texas, but because each home was using more electricity to power the air conditioning systems that were keeping us cool.

Fast forward to today. Peak demand electricity usage is becoming more and more of a challenge for the Texas electricity grid.  More people are continuing to move to Texas.  More new homes are being built.

Today, 50+ years after the wide spread adoption of residential central air conditioning, there is a new technology beginning to be widely deployed called rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV). Finally, each home can include technology that can generate local electricity to help power central air conditioning and other home comforts. Electricity that is generated where it is consumed, reducing the strain on the statewide electric grid. Electricity that is generated from local clean sunshine, not requiring our precious water resources like traditional centrally generated power plants. Electricity that is produced without air, water, or noise pollution.

Solar-ready provisions include relatively simple items such as including a chase that goes to the roof for solar service lines, and a roof design that provides an area of unobstructed south facing roof surface where solar panels could be installed. When included in the original design requirements and done when the home is constructed, these solar-ready provisions should add little or no cost to the overall price of new homes. See ICC Approves Changes to Energy Code for additional information.

So please take the time to generate a brief email to SECO at and ask them to adopt "Appendix U - Solar-Ready Provisions" of the 2015 IRC as a requirement for new homes built in Texas. And ask others you know to do the same!

Shine On!
Plano Solar Energy Advocates (LH)

Additional thought - If you hear from a homebuilder that building a home solar-ready costs too much, ask them how much cost is added to homes to include fireplaces? How much time per year do you spend in front of the fireplace vs hours of sunshine?

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