Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar

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For Immediate Release
October 30, 2008

Contact: Allen Spelce
R.J. DeSilva
(512) 463-4070

With energy ratings system, Texans could reap significant savings

By Susan Combs
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Making your home more energy efficient is a wise choice. Not only will the investment pay off by making your living area more comfortable, but you also stand to reap considerable energy savings.

The stakes are high: A Texas household that increases its energy efficiency by 20 percents stands to save between $1,791 and $2,507 over the course of seven years. And if every household in Texas realized those savings over that time frame, our state’s residents collectively could save more than $13.7 billion. With 87 percent of Texas’ 6.3 million homes valued at $200,000 or less, efficiency gains represent significant savings to most Texas families.

Because Texans have financial priorities that extend beyond running the air conditioner, our office recently released the Home Energy Efficiency Report (2.5 MB). In the report, we crunch the numbers relevant to the issue, evaluate the future demand for energy and propose a voluntary home energy ratings system.

An easy-to-understand energy rating system would empower consumers to make wise choices when buying a home or considering energy upgrades. Just as consumers use published mileage estimates when shopping for cars, Texans could use at-a-glance energy efficiency ratings when weighing the pros and cons of particular properties and upgrades.

While a mandated rating system would be impractical to implement for millions of homes, a voluntary system would allow market forces to drive participation. And if consumers want energy efficient homes, the marketplace will respond.

A portion of the housing market where such a ratings system could be invaluable — houses built before 1990 — represents 69 percent of Texas homes. Those homes would benefit the most from upgrades, and a clear rating system would chart a course for significant savings.

And help is on the way for consumers who want to gain greater control over soaring utility bills and those who are considering one of life’s biggest investments – a new home. Texas A&M University is developing an online ratings tool that will generate an accurate energy efficiency score for any home. You simply enter key information about energy usage, heating and cooling systems and other features of a home. The online tool will show you whether your home or other dwellings are as energy efficient as they could be. When the tool rolls out in the spring of 2009, Texans can access it on the Comptroller’s State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) Web site at www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us. With more information being added about energy efficiency and a redesign recently completed, be sure to check the SECO site regularly.

Affordable energy plays a critical role in serving Texas’ growing population and fostering economic growth. Texas leads the nation in energy production, and we can lead the U.S. in maximizing that potential through energy efficiency.

The 80th Legislature passed a bill by Rep. Mark Strama requiring the Comptroller’s office to conduct a comprehensive study to identify potential methods for providing home energy efficiency information to Texas consumers. To learn more about energy efficiency and download a copy of the Home Energy Efficiency Report (2.5 MB), visit the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/hb3070/96-1350_Home_Energy_Eff_HB3070.pdf.

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