Biden admin rebuffs lawmakers' claims new energy standards will exacerbate 'dream-killing' housing costs

The Biden administration on Monday rejected claims from Congress and homebuilder groups that new energy efficiency standards for home construction will make a bad economic situation even worse.

In late May, the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Agriculture enacted updated energy efficiency standards for new home construction that reflect 2021 International Energy Efficiency Conservation Code (IECC) parameters for federally-financed homes.

The pushback comes after nearly 20 lawmakers sent a recent letter demanding the president halt adoption of the new efficiency standards, set to be enforced, citing affordability and inflationary concerns. 

In comments to Fox News Digital, a Biden-Harris administration official rejected claims the new standards will further burden first-time homebuyers and families already facing record high prices.


“As a result of this rule, energy efficiency improvements will cut costs by hundreds of dollars per year, saving homeowners tens-of-thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the home,” the official said.

“[HUD, USDA] and the Department of Energy are providing billions of dollars in resources and support to builders to ensure these standards help homebuyers see lower energy bills, ensure their homes are more resilient to extreme heat and cold, and even see benefits to their health.”

In a separate statement, HUD officials wrote that the adoption of the 2021-IECC will yield “significant annual and lifetime cost savings to homeowners and renters, improves resident health and comfort, and increases the climate resilience of both single family and multifamily covered housing.”

According to a HUD fact sheet, the agency calculated an $80 per month energy bill savings for houses built under 2021-IECC versus the prior standards. Current IECC standards were drafted in 2009 and put into effect in 2015.

In their letter, more than a dozen House lawmakers led by Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., warned Biden the adoption of 2021-IECC standards would exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and price some households out of the market altogether.

Cline’s letter, co-signed by Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, Dan Meuser, R-Pa., and 15 other lawmakers, said 44 states thus far declined to adopt the 2021-IECC standards themselves because they understand the market ramifications.


“In fact, HUD estimates that applying the 2021-IECC standards would cause new home prices to rise by an average of $7,200 per single-family home. Additionally, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) data shows that around 107 million households are already unable to afford the median price of a new home,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The adoption of this new standard will price an additional 724,525 households out of the market,” it went on. The letter also claimed the new standards will disproportionately hurt underserved communities and first-time homebuyers.

A spokesman for Meuser said although the 2021-IECC standards went into effect May 28, there is still time for Biden to pull back on any enforcement.

The spokesman cited the federal register, which stipulated compliance dates for FHA-insured single family new-construction 18 months after the May date, one year for multifamily projects and two years for projects in rural or “persistent poverty” areas.

In a statement, Cline said Biden-era regulations have already had a negative impact on the Shenandoah Valley, which he represents, adding the adoption of 2021-IECC will “only exacerbate the housing crisis.”

Another co-signer, Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., quipped, “first inflation, now this.”

Bean said Biden’s energy policies are “killing the American Dream of home ownership.”

Bean went on to cite data mirroring that from Kansas City, Mo.’s Home Builders Association that calculated an increase of more than $31,000 in the price of a home.

“It’s clear Biden stands with Wall Street billionaires and green radicals, not hardworking Americans,” Bean said.

Self said in a statement the new regulations will deliver only “minimal” energy-saving returns while burdening new homebuyers with higher prices.


A spokesperson for NAHB pointed Fox News Digital to recent congressional testimony by Shawn Woods, a Missouri homebuilder who appeared on the organization’s behalf.

“Without adequate review or consideration of how it will affect home buyers or renters, HUD and USDA have rammed through a mandate that will require new, single-family construction financed through both agencies to be built to the 2021 IECC,” he said.

Woods also echoed lawmakers’ concerns about the potential inflationary effects on the housing affordability crisis during his prior testimony.

Meanwhile, Craig Toalson, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, praised Cline’s action, predicting mandatory adoption of the standards by HUD and USDA would bring little in the way of “meaningful” energy savings to homebuyers.

“[T]his ill-conceived codes policy will deter new construction at a time when increasing the housing supply is crucial to lowering shelter inflation costs,” Toalson said.

The present and former standards were drafted by the International Code Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. It formulates building safety codes and provides accreditations and technologies, according to its website.

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