EmPOWER Maryland Incentives for New Home Construction

EmPOWER Maryland New Home Construction Incentives – My Green Montgomery: My Green Montgomery

August 26, 2021

What is EmPOWER Maryland?

If you look closely at your monthly utility bill, you might notice a little extra for EmPOWER Maryland. This charge contributes to a group of programs established under the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008, a bill designed to reduce energy use statewide. As part of EmPOWER, utilities in Maryland are required to offer programs that promote energy efficiency and conservation, while helping homes and businesses save money on their utility bills. Until there, EmPOWER programs saved 11,971,724 MWh and 2,363 MW of Maryland’s peak demand, and is expected to generate $ 12 billion in savings by the end of 2020. This conservation contributes to the annual energy savings target of the State of 2% of gross energy sales, set in 2017.

The programs available are managed by Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Delmarva Power and Light, Potomac Edison, Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) and Washington Gas Light Company (WGL). Utilities offer a series of programs, offering a variety of discounts for residential and commercial properties.

EmPOWER Maryland programs for building new homes ENERGY STAR

As new construction continues to appear in Maryland, energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important in efforts to mitigate climate change. Builders are encouraged to offer ENERGY STAR certified homes and appliances because they meet stringent US Environmental Protection Agency energy performance standards. However, since energy efficient construction requires additional costs and meeting strict criteria, this can be difficult to achieve.

A cluster of production row houses by LENNAR MDH in Clarksburg Square are built significantly better than code and are labeled ENERGY STAR for homes. These townhouses have a HERS rating ranging from 34 to 38.

Achieving ENERGY STAR certification means building better than code, forcing builders to potentially spend more money and time understanding and meeting these requirements. As Jay Hall of the Green Homes and Buildings Consulting Company Jay Hall and Associates Inc. explained, builders are already working hard to just finish projects and meet housing needs, so going beyond the code may not always be realistic without help. The ENERGY STAR New Home Construction EmPOWER program bridges the gap between cost and sustainability by offering discounts directly to the builder for ENERGY STAR certified construction and equipment.

“New construction programs are unique because the incentives go to the builder. In almost every other incentive program, commercial or residential, it goes straight to the customer, ”said Alex Emond, program manager at ICF International Inc for Maryland’s ENERGY STAR New Home Program. Alex noted, “a lot of these builders could just sell houses built to code – I mean they’re really nice homes, customers may or may not know if they have an ENERGY STAR home or not – but hopefully. that these incentives actually get [builders] participate regularly in our program and pay close attention to the details that ensure energy efficiency.

Another element that makes the incentive effective is that all of Maryland’s major utilities participate, which means discounts are offered statewide. In addition, each public service has contracted ICF International Inc. to manage their new construction incentives, making their rebate programs similar in structure. No matter where a project is located in Maryland, builders are encouraged to meet ENERGY STAR standards.

A healthy, high-quality home

Image: Blower door test

By helping builders achieve ENERGY STAR certification, incentives also help ensure a quality product. A house that meets ENERGY STAR test criteria is at least 10% more energy efficient than a house built to code and produces an average energy savings of 20%. In addition, the houses guarantee long-lasting quality, complete comfort, energy efficiency, reduced costs and confidence in the construction process.

I always promote green programs [like ENERGY STAR] like making homes healthier than a compliant home, making it more sustainable, more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly, ”Jay said.

Alex pointed out that the EmPOWER incentive benefits a range of builders; from national construction builders to mid-size and custom home builders. ICF and the Maryland Utilities are constantly trying to reach new builders who are not already participating. For Montgomery County, that means encouraging participation from builders of custom homes.

To add to the benefits, energy efficiency in new construction contributes to Maryland’s EmPOWER energy saving and climate action goals. Builders can offset costs and support green development by taking advantage of the EmPOWER program for building new ENERGY STAR homes. Likewise, homebuyers can support the program by choosing participating home builders and appraisers who are registered service providers with a utility. If you are looking to build a new home, check out the discounts available below offered by your local utility!

Images above of supply air flow tests and duct tests

Discount overview

In Montgomery County, the following utilities offer EmPOWER programs for building ENERGY STAR new homes: BGE, Pepco, Potomac Edison, and Washington Gas. Participating home builders can get up to $ 1,250 in rebates for each eligible home, additional rebates for energy efficient appliances, and resources to help them build and sell each home.

BGE ENERGY STAR program for new homes

List of participating new home builders

Pepco ENERGY STAR New Home Program

List of participating home builders

HERS Evaluator Program

Potomac Edison New Home Program

List of participating home builders

The three electric utilities above offer the following discounts to new ENERGY STAR version 3.1 certified homes with 100% LED installation:

Housing type Discount amount
Detached single family home $ 1,250
Townhouse or Duplex $ 750
Two-on-Two Condo $ 550
Multifamily unit $ 400

BGE is offering an additional $ 1,000 rebate to qualifying homes, of all types of housing, that win the Department of Energy award Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) certification.

Measure Discount amount
ENERGY STAR smart thermostat $ 75
Air conditioner ≥16 SEER $ 200
Heat pump ≥16 SEER and ≥10 HSPF $ 350
3.0 UEF Heat pump water heater * $ 500

* Potomac Edison also lists heat pump water heaters> 2.25 EF as eligible.

Washington Gas offers natural gas offerings complementary to those provided by the three previous electric utilities. Thanks to their New home construction program the utility provides builders with newsletters, training, supplier assistance and, of course, financial incentives for energy efficient homes and equipment. These resources are available to eligible home builders and HERS appraisers who join the network. The discounts available from Washington Gas can be found below.

* The first two tables show new construction discounts that are managed by Washington Gas partner utilities and not found on the Washington Gas website. For homes built in service territory that straddles Washington Gas, the public service undertakes to share the costs 50/50 with the public electricity service concerned.

The third table shows discounts on utility equipment. Many of these are also available to Maryland homeowners as residential discounts.

ENERGY STAR Version 3.1 certified homes:

Housing type Discount amount *
Detached single family home $ 1,250
Townhouse or Duplex $ 750
Two-on-Two Condo $ 550
Multifamily unit $ 400

Certificate Discount amount *
Zero Energy Ready Home Certification (ZERH) $ 1,000

Equipment Efficiency requirement Discount amount
Storage water heater (Level 1) ENERGY STAR certified $ 100
Storage water heater (level 2) ENERGY STAR certified

Minimum UEF 0.69

$ 150
Tankless water heater (Level 2) ENERGY STAR certified

Minimum UEF 0.89

$ 400
furnace ENERGY STAR certified

> 95% AFUE

$ 400
Boiler (Level 1) ENERGY STAR certified $ 400
Boiler (Level 2) ENERGY STAR certified

At least 95% AFUE

$ 700
Combi boiler At least 90% AFUE

And / or minimum 0.87 UEF

$ 700

Written by Susannah Auderset, Montgomery County Climate Planning Team Intern, Summer 2021.

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