Homes built after Jan. 1 in California must be solar powered

A new California law goes into effect Jan. 1 that requires homes built in 2020 and beyond to be powered by solar. 

The California Energy Commission voted in the change last year as a way to help make the state less reliant on dirty fossel fuels. 

The state will become the first in the nation with a solar mandate. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is equivalent to removing 115,000 gasoline vehicles off the road, according to the California Energy Commission.

Energy officials said the price of a single-family home is expected to increase by about $10,000, but utility bills are expected to be about $40 or $50 a month lower because of solar.

The 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards focus on four key areas:

  • Smart residential photovoltaic systems
  • Updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa)
  • Residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements (to improve indoor air quality, protecting homeowners from air pollution originating from outdoor and indoor sources)
  • Nonresidential lighting requirements. 

The standards also establish requirements for newly constructed healthcare facilities.

“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister. “The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy. They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future.”

Homeowners can either lease solar panels or sign a purchase agreement with the utility company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.