Stretch codes threaten energy choice

Members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) have common interests in defeating the electrify all movement that continues to grow across the country.

Builders, renovators, buyers and homeowners have a common interest in preserving and protecting the right to choose the types of energy used in homes. Affordable housing depends on affordable and reliable energy choices.

Stricter building codes, sometimes referred to as “stretch codes,” are starting to affect the types of energy allowed in homes under construction or renovation. Home builders in most states build homes in accordance with the International Building Code and the International Housing Code, both of which are part of the International Code Council (ICC) family. These codes operate on a three-year code cycle, similar to the National Fire Protection Association codes for the propane industry. Each state building code regulatory and licensing body adopts the appropriate ICC codes and changes that apply to their state and updates the codes and changes periodically as new code cycles are introduced. considered.

The challenge for home builders and the propane industry is that the new editions of the ICC building codes and the extended code changes being considered in most states would be an important first step towards meeting the electrify all movement. The latest ICC building codes contain standards that encourage the use of electricity as the primary and sole source of energy for the home.

In most states, additional building code changes are also being considered by state building code regulators who are pushing these electrification efforts further. For example, these extended codes and modifications may require that the house be wired for electricity at every point of use in the house, whether the house is starting all electric or not. In other words, the home electrical panel should have a capacity large enough for a fully electric home, regardless of the desired use of propane or natural gas in the finished home. Traditional propane points of use, such as cooking appliances, water heaters, clothes dryers, and space heaters, would be hardwired for electrical applications, even though gas would be used at one or more of those points.

Taking it one step further, the house would be hardwired to accommodate an electric vehicle (EV) charging station, boldly assuming all homeowners will soon be driving EVs.

The residential construction industry is against these extensive building codes because they add unnecessary upfront costs to homes and increase the operating costs of homes in most parts of the country, making housing less affordable and accessible to people. all income levels of home buyers.

In all parts of the country, the cost of electricity is rising rapidly – in part due to the trend towards renewable electricity – while the reliability of electricity suffers from problems of generation capacity and grid delivery. Homebuyers will be forced to pay for electrical infrastructure capacity that they may never use, while cutting back on other desired features to contain the overall costs of the home, and they may even delay the move. buying a home due to affordability and financing issues.

The propane industry is also against these extended building codes, as they restrict consumers’ energy choice and take away much of the freedom for homebuyers to choose propane as part of their home’s energy mix. The comfort, reliability and economy of use of propane will become inaccessible to consumers over time.

Homebuyers will ask why they should add propane if their home is already wired just to use electricity. If you are asked this question, how will you answer? The answers can be found at propane.com/energyforeveryone.

Ultimately, this is a lobbying challenge that must be taken seriously by the NPGA, working closely with national and regional propane associations and local members of the industry. Raise your voice in concern about these draconian home building regulations, or propane will lose its energy status forever for everyone.


Tom Jaenicke is Vice President of Propane Marketing Services for Warm Thoughts Communications. He can be reached at [email protected] or 810-252-7855.

Homepage image: iStock.com/jacomstephens


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