Net zero energy homes now being built


Who wants to pay a utility bill? I know I don’t!

I’ve taken the very expensive route to not having to deal with high energy bills by installing whole house solar on an existing property. The solar system at my Florida home is working so well that two months ago our power bill was $4.15. Last month’s bill was negative $26; the power company owes me instead of the other way around because I generate power and sell it down the line!

But I did it the hard way retrofitting an existing property to be energy-efficient. The payback will still take, by my calculations, about eight years even after federal credits. There’s got to be a better way and it’s now starting to emerge.

The Orange County Register  reports KB Home and Meritage Homes are putting up the first newly built net zero homes, which generate as much energy as they consume. The green tweaks that are necessary to make a home ultra energy efficient from the sticks up raise the purchase price by $19,000 to $30,000 in the case of KB Homes — and that’s after federal tax credits. But over time, those homeowners will have no energy bills.

When we move into recovery phase in U.S. housing market, builders looking to compete with foreclosures and short sales can use lower energy bills as a selling point. That’s pretty exciting and enticing.

Habitat for Humanity goes green to save green

USA Today reports Habitat for Humanity is now encouraging its affiliates to build ultra energy efficient homes. The homes that I sponsor are done this way. Habitat has learned through hard experience that homeowners would have their power shut off during the summer because their bill was so big they couldn’t pay. So at first they stopped putting in central air conditioning. But that only meant homeowners bought window units which are even worse and their energy still got shut off.

Then Habitat started building more efficient homes and found the construction costs so small and the payback so quick that it was a no brainer. Typically, it costs less than $2,000 in a Habitat home to build it much more energy efficient.

Whole house solar benefits sellers

This is not just something for people buying huge houses or mid size houses. It works across the housing market. All it really takes is just a change in thought and what we do. We can make a difference and it doesn’t have to cost a lot — I’m not talking about the difference for social good, that’s just a fringe benefit — for your wallet.


You might recall how I told you the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted an 8-year study of home resale values where whole house solar was involved. The study found the typical home with whole house solar sells for $17,000 more than a home that doesn’t have it because buyers put it into the purchase price that they won’t have big utility bills.

It’s smart business, a smart decision and smart all the way around. Unless you own utility stocks!

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