California is requiring solar panels on all new houses: here’s what that means

California has become the first state to require the construction of new homes with solar panels. The rules will take effect in 2020 and are part of the state's ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But these requirements also make it more expensive to build in a state where housing is already extremely expensive.

The new construction standards approved by the California Energy Commission apply to all residential buildings up to three stories high (including single-family buildings and condominiums). They will undoubtedly help California achieve its goal of having at least half of the electricity coming from renewable energy by 2030. Solar is already responsible for approximately 16 percent of California's electricity.

But the new regulations mean that housing will be $ 8,000 for $ 12,000 more expensive, according to The New York Times . That's especially difficult in a state where the average price of a single-family home is nearly $ 565,000, according to the California Association of Realtors. Habitat for Humanity's development director, Laine Himmelmann, told CNN affiliate KRCA that the regulations would require the non-profit organization to raise $ 80,000 to $ 100,000 more per year in donations. (And, two years ago, Vox's Brad Plumer argued that increasing housing density would be even greener than requiring solar panels.)

For residents, at least, the increase could match in the long term, spokesman for the Energy Commission Amber Beck told the Los Angeles Times . Although buyers could see that their monthly mortgages increase by $ 40, their utility bills would fall by $ 80. Over time, a family would save $ 19,000 in current dollars, adjusted for inflation, by more than 30 years, according to Beck.

California is already the country's leader in solar energy, thanks to friendly public policy and the sun. Last year, it published a report describing its climate change goals: these included reducing greenhouse gases by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. "This is another step forward and recognizes that this It should be the standard for a sustainable home, "says Anne Hoskins, policy director at Sunrun, the nation's largest residential solar installation company.

Hoskins noted that, although California continues to be the company's largest customer, in recent years the company has expanded to states such as Wisconsin and Illinois. "Are we waiting for each state to require the same of all new homes immediately?" No, "she says. "But I think with this California example, lawmakers across the country can see that these new homes can be efficient and profitable, so it will be an example that will be used as a model in other states."