April 2015 Build Smart Newsletter

Welcome to the first Build Smart newsletter, brought to you by the Nicor Gas and ComEd® Residential New Construction Service. Sent quarterly, the communication provides updates to our builder partners on our service, brings insights to the new construction energy efficiency industry and offers resources that can assist you in achieving above-code levels of efficiency for your homes.

Requirements and incentives update

Below is a summary of criteria for participation in the Nicor Gas and ComEd Residential New Construction Service (as of June 1, 2014): 
  • Homes must receive delivery of natural gas service by Nicor Gas, and the primary source of heat must be sealed combustion and/or rated to withstand 50 Pa or more negative pressure, with an AFUE of 92 or greater.
  • Homes must receive electric service from ComEd. However, homes located within the Nicor Gas service territory not served by ComEd are still eligible if all other requirements are met.
  • Homes must have:
    • Natural gas water heating equipment that is direct vented or power vented and rated to withstand 50 Pa or more negative pressure. Electric devices will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    • Mechanical ventilation that is balanced and/or capable of continuous operation.
    • Programmable set-back thermostats.
  • Homes must be confirmed by a HERS rater to be at least 20 percent better than the current adopted state energy code. The greater the percentage above code, the greater the builder incentive.

Builder incentive tiers

Percentage above adopted state code Incentive amount
20-24.99%  $150
25-29.99%  $300
30% or better  $450

Overcoming new requirements challenges

We realize that achieving 20 percent better than code is a challenge. Working with your rater is the best way to develop a game plan that implements a practical approach to meeting or exceeding the new requirements. We are also available to you and your rater if you’d like to discuss additional measures that can significantly improve energy efficiency, such as ICF foundation walls, hot roofs, ECM furnaces and insulation options, to name a few. You can contact us at info@residentialscience.com or 888.240.4123 and we’ll help you map out a plan for success.

Enjoy the benefits of Contractor Circle

When you join Contractor Circle, you can take advantage of many exclusive offers from energySMART, a Nicor Gas program. Benefits include: 
  • Communications and updates: Be the first to find out about updates and special offerings.
  • Contractor Circle member portal: Includes access to the participation dashboard to view your company’s metrics and the marketing portal to order free print materials.
  • Logo use and co-branding opportunities: Only Contractor Circle members are allowed to use the energySMART Contractor Circle member logo and Nicor Gas name on their company websites and marketing materials.
  • Training: Access to energySMART sponsored trainings and webinars on a variety of technical, business, sales and related topics.
  • Find a Contractor search tool (coming soon!): Customers will be able to search for builders that are Contractor Circle members on the energySMART website.
Don’t miss out on the chance to provide more visibility to your business and increase sales. Enroll in Contractor Circle using our online form today!

Selling energy efficiency

A more energy efficient home is a better investment for a homebuyer. The home is more durable, more comfortable for the occupants and will likely save the homeowner a significant amount of money on utility bills over the lifetime of the home. But how do you deliver this message to consumers? Your responses to last year’s survey showed that many of you are searching for the best approach: 
  • “I don’t think the consumer realizes the benefits they get when purchasing a new home”
  • “Public training should be done to give new construction the benefits of complying with the new codes”
  • “Provide a training webinar or short in-person review of the program benefits — not necessarily the rebates — simply the things we are doing that set us apart.”
For many, “selling” energy efficiency is difficult and opinions vary on the best approach. The fact remains that consumer interest and demand for energy efficient homes are growing, so we encourage you to formulate your own plan for talking to prospective home buyers. A recent EcoBuilding article does a great job summarizing best practices for increasing sales of high-performance homes. A study cited in the EcoBuilding article found that 89 percent of homebuyers surveyed would prefer an energy-efficient house over a comparable house without energy efficiency features, even if the high-performance home costs 2 to 3 percent more.

Green home building comprised 23 percent of the residential construction market in 2013 and is expected to grow to between 26 percent and 33 percent of the market by 2016, according to EcoBuilding. Creating and implementing a strategy now for speaking with prospective home buyers regarding their priorities for building green will result in greater sales and greater customer satisfaction as the high-performance home market continues to grow.

Let us know what you think

We welcome your feedback. Please contact us at info@residentialscience.com or call 888.240.4123.