Richard Levy: Steamboat council urged to adopt energy codes
August 23, 2017
I am writing today to ask the Steamboat Springs City Council to vote in favor of passing the updated 2015 energy codes for efficient construction in Routt County.
This is a smart, logical and Colorado market-competitive move that will level the playing field for all county citizens ranging from low-income renters, to working families, to owners of over-sized homes. It will help reduce energy waste, save money and create safer and healthier homes.
Low-income renters, especially in this community with tight housing, have little choice as to the quality of their rentals and are the most vulnerable to high energy bills that play a larger role in their budgets. Those heating bills can quadruple in the winters.
The results are families making difficult choices between essentials such as food and medicine and keeping their homes comfortable. Or, families sometimes leave Steamboat Springs because they can't afford the high cost of living here.
It is much more expensive to upgrade the energy efficiency of an existing home than it is to build a home to that is energy efficient from the start. Many homeowners do not have the knowledge or interest to improve energy consumption on their homes after they buy them and instead will just turn up the thermostat.
It is estimated that to build a home to the 2015 energy code standards would increase the cost of the home by only 4 percent with a simple payback period (time it takes to recoup added expenses by saving on energy costs) of just seven years.
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In addition to lowering long-term costs, energy-efficient homes are healthier homes. Energy-efficient homes, guided by the 2015 energy codes, are drier homes with more consistent temperatures. The result is fewer air indoor pollutants, reduced allergens, and fewer asthma triggers.
The National Association of Home Builders states that nine out of 10 of all home buyers want more energy-efficient homes. We know that in Steamboat Springs where housing stock is competitive, buyers often have to take what they can get, so all residential builders should all be building to the same current energy efficiency level.
Now that the county's construction community has been provided with multiple educational workshops on the 2015 energy codes several builders are already meeting those standards in anticipation of a "yes" vote.
It's time for the county's building department to have just one code to inspect. It's time to make it official and pass the 2015 health and safety building codes and well as the 2015 efficiency energy codes for Routt County and Steamboat Springs.
If you would like Steamboat Springs to pass updated energy codes, contact City Council through http://steamboatsprings.net/FormCenter/City-Council-19/City-Council-Contact-Form-103.