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California Will Require Solar Panels For New Homes

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The state of California is prepared to vote on a mandate that will make solar panels a requirement for new homes. Once approved, builders will be required to meet the new standard to get a building permit.  ( Ludovic Marin | AFP/Getty Images )

California takes a bold step forward to become the first state in the United States to make solar panels mandatory in homes that will be built after 2020.

Push From The Government

According to home builders in the state, the option to install solar panels has been continuously offered to buyers who don't mind the extra cost of green living. However, most people reportedly declined due to their presumption that it is just added bills to pay.

Yet, upon careful analysis, the approach would save homeowners money in the future. At least people in the California Energy Commission see otherwise as the group is set to finalize their votes next week on May 9. It will establish the state's new energy standards, which aims to make the sources of renewable energy a requirement for new homes beginning 2020.

Expecting Big Changes

Depending on the results of the voting process, which most people expect to rule in favor of green energy, everyone will see record numbers when it comes to the installation of solar panels. A closer look at the mandate in question reveals that all low-profile and single-family homes, apartments, and condos with three stories or less will be required to meet the new standard to qualify for a building permit.

Analysts expect California's energy usage by more than 50 percent once the mandate is passed. Due to the other requirements that include upgrades to heat transfer standards, non-residential lighting, and ventilation, homeowners are told to expect at least an additional $40 to their monthly bills. The switch, however, will save them approximately $80 on heating, cooling, and lighting based on studies.

Some of the illustrated exceptions are homes that are located in places shaded by trees. Structures with roofs that are too small for standard-sized solar installations are likewise exempted from the proposed standards.

A Welcome Step Toward Net-Zero

Now that California made its move to make solar panels a requirement for all-new structures built after 2020, its next target could be more mandates designed to gradually move closer to net-zero standards. It means that future homes would be designed to meet standards that could theoretically produce enough solar power and remain off the grid.

"California is about to make a quantum leap in energy standards," said Bob Raymer, California Building Industry Association's technical director. "No other state in the nation mandates solar, we are about to take that leap."

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