How the IRA Can Make Resilience Affordable

Jamie SkaarWith the cost of homeownership skyrocketing and extreme weather on the rise, it's increasingly important to know if your home is financially and physically resilient.

Housing affordability is a nationwide concern for homeowners. Rising costs across insurance, taxes, and utilities are creating serious financial strain. These rising costs are alarming enough, but when combined with the increasing threat of severe weather events, like the recent snowstorm in Portland, Oregon, that left 132,000 people without power for over a week, risks are leading homeowners to question if they're properly prepared.

The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane forecast released by Colorado State predicts that this will be a record year for named hurricanes, with an estimated 23 storms expected, including 11 hurricanes and five category 3 or higher storms. That could drive insurance costs even higher. These concerns are weighing heavily on all homeowners.

Up to $30,000 in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) incentives are available per household for projects like heat pump upgrades, insulation improvements, and solar installations, potentially saving homeowners thousands per year on utility costs. These upgrades, while requiring some upfront investment, can significantly reduce the ongoing cost of homeownership.

However, selling consumers on abstract concepts like electrification or decarbonization can be a hard sell. Talking about resilience – essentially making your home stronger against storms and rising energy costs – resonates more deeply with homeowners, according to Clean Energy Expert Jamie Skaar, Founder of Luna Energy. Insulation Institute talked with Skaar recently about homeowners who are prioritizing making their homes more resilient.


Drafts, High Bills, and Discomfort: Turn Problems into Resilience

Typically, high utility bills, drafts, or rooms that are too hot/cold trigger home improvement projects. Despite rising utility costs, uptake of the boosted 25C tax credit for insulation and air sealing is lower than when the credit was $500. This highlights how upfront costs remain a major barrier. That's why education is critical, especially now that the IRA offers significantly larger incentives to offset those initial upgrade expenses.

That's where Luna Energy captures attention by focusing on reducing the total cost of homeownership by lowering energy bills and protecting homes against replacement needs and damage while improving home performance. Energy efficiency upgrades and smart technologies might seem like a tough sell, but as homeowners experience more extreme weather and power outages, priorities are shifting, and that is exactly why Luna Energy's focus on resilience is so effective. Skaar explains that it's getting easier, not harder.

"Rising costs leave many homeowners feeling helpless. The lack of awareness about clean energy solutions and how the IRA can help is a missed opportunity," Skaar explains. "Over the lifetime of ownership, a homeowner can spend $14,000 per year maintaining a home, with extreme temperatures, storms, and rising insurance costs threatening to make that even worse. Yet, many homeowners remain unaware of how to lower or even eliminate their rising costs."

Rising energy costs and the vulnerability of power outages during extreme weather have homeowners increasingly worried. Technologies like Luna Energy's innovative solar-powered heat pumps offer a solution, providing energy resilience, cost savings, and year-round comfort, even in extreme temperatures. These systems harness solar power to reduce grid reliance, provide resilience during power outages, and cut heating and cooling costs. With the IRA making this technology accessible, homeowners see the value.

"Too many homeowners fall victim to outdated heating and cooling solutions that cost a fortune to run and fail when the power goes out," says Skaar. "That's why it's so important to educate them about sustainable, resilient technologies like Luna's solar-powered heat pumps. These systems offer substantial long-term savings and peace of mind – some homeowners are saving upwards of 47% on their utility bills, making the choice easy."


The New American Dream: Homes That Save Money and Withstand Storms

Luna Energy empowers homeowners and contractors with knowledge about resilience and electrification, positioning lower cost of ownership and better performance as the core value proposition. This resonates with homeowners who are increasingly worried about power outages and disruptions caused by climate change. While these solutions can represent a significant upfront investment, the value lies in greater energy independence, protection against volatile energy markets, and the peace of mind that comes with increased resilience.

"Resilience is the fastest-growing concern for homeowners, and that will likely continue," Skaar said, noting the dramatic increase in billion-dollar weather events – from an average of 8 per year to 28 in 2023. "We're on track to gain about 3 degrees in heat globally, well above the 1.5 degree target, which will fuel even more destructive storms." Skaar noted that a whole home solution could run upwards of $44K, with incentives offsetting much of the cost.

"We provide resilience solutions, but homeowners invest in them because we show them how to leverage IRA incentives to lower their total cost of homeownership while improving performance and resilience. This proactive approach delivers significantly more value than replacing failed furnaces, roofs, or water heaters in a crisis."


The Power of Resilience Upgrades

With the severity of extreme weather events increasing, it's not if extreme weather will occur, but when. Offering homeowners a solution that addresses multiple concerns – including utility costs, comfort, health, and sustainability – while boosting resilience, makes a lot of sense.

Even if a comprehensive upgrade is out of reach, prioritizing the building envelope, including air sealing and insulation, delivers significant resilience improvements, including protecting indoor air quality during wildfires, reducing allergies, and the risk of mold and mildew growth. "Ventilation and building shell are the most important part of the home, so focusing on improving that is key."

"We are removing the uncertainty for homeowners by providing knowledge they don't have and reducing the complexity of navigating incentives. Nobody told us that upgrading our homes for resilience and efficiency is essential to securing the American dream, but homeowners are quickly realizing."



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