by Kurt Krueger
The California Energy Commission has ruled that by 2020 solar panels will be required on all new homes with limited exemptions. For many people this may seem sudden. You may be one of them… feeling surprised, wanting to know more. However, this is one of several actions that have happened in the state over the last decade to move us toward sustainability–all as part of a larger plan.
It had already been mandated that, also by 2020, all new homes would be required to be net zero energy buildings (also known as net zero homes) in California. This means that there must be a zero net sum energy usage for the home–the home must not use more energy than it ‘makes’ and thereby not have a negative effect on the environment. Solar panels will be an important part of making this happen and can easily be incorporated into the design process for your new home. To help our clients understand these requirements, we are answering several frequently asked questions:
What will solar panels mean for my new house project?
With solar panels you will enjoy energy savings from day one on your electric bills. While there are additional upfront costs, it ends up saving money over time. There are also rebates at the state level that are available, which helps with those costs. As an added bonus, if you exceed your own use of electricity, you can sell it and see an immediate return on your investment.
For optimal operation it is important to think about where the panels will be positioned on the house. This, in turn, leads to consideration of how the house will be oriented on the property; specifically, the orientation of the roofs. If there are natural or manmade features adjacent that would shade the panels, this has to be allowed for. A good architect will do solar and shade studies to ensure proper orientation.
For homes built prior to 2020, space for solar panels is supposed to be allocated, though the homeowner need not install them. By leaving space for the panels, this will then allow future owners to add panels.