Plan for Energy Efficiency First
California energy policy places great emphasis on energy efficiency because it is the most cost effective means to meet the state's energy and environmental needs. In establishing the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), the Energy Commission aims to ensure that new residential buildings that are granted an incentive under the NSHP are significantly more energy efficient than required by the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6). Energy efficiency measures will reduce the amount of electricity a new home will need while maintaining comfort. Adding power production from a solar energy system will further reduce the amount of power that must be purchased from a utility and therefore reduce monthly energy bills. This helps the combined energy efficiency and solar project to be as affordable as possible over the life of the home.
Residential buildings are eligible for one of three different NSHP incentives:
Buildings are subject to the 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (2008 Standards) or the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (2013 Standards), depending on which update of the Building Energy Efficiency Standards were in effect on the date of the application for the building permit.
Buildings subject to the 2013 Standards are required to meet one of the following three tiers of energy efficiency:
- Code-Compliant: The building must comply with the 2013 Standards prior to claiming the solar compliance credit for the 2013 Standards.
- Tier I: For residential buildings, a total compliance margin of 15 percent better than standard as indicated on the CF-1R. For qualifying nonresidential buildings, a total compliance margin of 10 percent better than standard as indicated on the Performance Certificate of Compliance (PERF-1).
- Tier II: For residential buildings, a total compliance margin of 30 percent better than standard as indicated on the CF-1R and a space-cooling compliance margin of at least 30 percent better than standard. For qualifying nonresidential buildings, a total compliance margin of 15 percent better than standard as indicated on the PERF-1 and a space-cooling compliance margin of at least 15 percent better than standard.
Buildings subject to the 2008 Standards are required to meet one of the following two tiers of energy efficiency:
- Tier I: For residential buildings, a total compliance margin of 15 percent better than standard as indicated on the CF-1R. For qualifying nonresidential buildings, a total compliance margin of 15 percent better than standard, as indicated on the PERF-1.
- Tier II: For residential buildings, a total compliance margin of 30 percent better than standard as indicated on the CF-1R and a space-cooling compliance margin of at least 30 percent better than standard. For qualifying nonresidential buildings, a total compliance margin of 30 percent better than standard as indicated on the PERF-1 and a space-cooling compliance margin of at least 30 percent better than standard.
The Tier I level is a minimum condition for participation in NSHP for buildings subject to 2008 Standards, while Code-Compliant is the minimum level for buildings subject to 2013 Standards. The Tier I & Tier II levels are intended to differentiate builders who make a greater commitment to energy efficiency, aim for immediate positive cash flow to homeowners—allowing the PV system to be downsized to be more affordable—and encourage builders to move towards zero energy new homes.
California Utility New Residential Construction Energy Efficiency Programs
Find out about the additional incentives the energy efficiency measures you incorporate will qualify for from PG&E, Southern California Edison or San Diego Gas & Electric.
Pacific Gas & Electric offers incentives for both Tier I and Tier II energy efficiency levels through the California Advanced New Homes.
PG&E also makes cash incentives available to design, construct and verify multifamily projects that exceed Title 24 energy efficiency standards by 15 percent through the California Multifamily New Homes Program.
PG&E also offers Rebates and Energy Efficiency for Your Home including products such as ENERGY STAR appliances, quality insulation installation, heating and cooling, and dual-pane windows.Southern California Edison
SCE offers the California Advanced Homes Program (CANHP) with incentives available for building single-family homes that meet Tier I or Tier II energy efficiency levels.
SCE also offers cash incentives and design assistance for energy efficient multifamily projects that exceed Title 24 Standards by 15 percent through the California Advanced Homes Program.
Information on incentives available from SCE for energy efficiency measures for new homes such as tight ducts, installation of select ENERGY STAR appliances, and quality insulation installation can be found on the California New Homes Program Builder and Buyer page.
SDG&E makes incentives available for single-family homes built to Tier I and Tier II energy efficiency levels and multifamily home projects that are at least 15 percent more efficient than current Title 24 Standards. For information on SDG&E energy efficiency incentives for single-family and multifamily home projects, contact New Construction Manager at email@example.com.
More information on residential new construction incentive programs from SDG&E is available through the California Advanced Home Program.
Energy efficient multifamily housing design assistance and incentives are available throughout California through HMG Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs.
Certified Energy Plans Examiners
To qualify for an incentive, you will be required to have a Certified Energy Plans Examiner (CEPE), approved by the California Association of Building Energy Consultants (CABEC), determine which energy efficiency measures are needed to meet NSHP energy efficiency requirements, and prepare the necessary documentation you must submit as part of the NSHP application.
To find a CEPE, please go to the CABEC website at:
To qualify for NSHP incentives, a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater must verify that both the planned energy efficiency measures have been incorporated and that the installation of the PV system is consistent with the information provided to determine the estimated performance, reservations, and ultimately the final NSHP incentive. Identify a HERS rater early in your planning to insure a smooth process and get these HERS verifications done.
To find a HERS rater, please go to CALCERT or CHEERS:
Solar Water Heating
You may want to consider a solar water heating system to help your residential building comply with the NSHP energy efficiency requirements. In some of California's mildest climates, the energy used for water heating may equal the combined energy needed for space heating and space cooling.
If you have general questions regarding the New Solar Homes Partnership, or if you are a builder or housing developer and would like to participate in the program, please: