It’s finally here! Zero energy homes have arrived, potentially making all of our previous energy savings tips obsolete and we could not be happier. Energy efficient home designs once were something only rich, eco-friendly families were able to make a reality and now two home builders have made them a reality for the masses. For those working towards a sustainable lifestyle, the zero energy home hits all the important areas such as energy efficiency, water conservation, smog reduction and even money saving advantages.
So what is a zero energy home? In simple terms, a zero energy home generates as much energy as it consumes, therefore being mostly self reliant and truly green. The ultra energy efficient homes have features like solar powered water heaters, smog consuming roof tiles and solar panels to produce electricity. Features like double paned windows and better insulation than an average home keep the elements out, making the most of the power that is consumed. There are significant economic advantages of starting with a zero energy home rather than working towards making a traditional home energy efficient. Retro fitting existing homes is a more costly approach in working towards zero energy, as with most projects starting from the beginning allows for more efficient engineering.
Clark Howard’s website noted that as home builders are looking to compete against foreclosures and short sales, green homes with little to no energy bill can be a great selling point. While the two builders are offering some energy efficient standards on the base model homes, to become ultra energy efficient, the home’s price tag increases by $19,000 to $35,000. This sounds pricey though when considering the average mortgage and utility bills, the cost of ownership is actually lower.
The project was announced by Meritage Homes on Earth Day in 2011 with KB Homes soon following. The neighborhoods are now built and families are starting to move in. For now these homes can be found in Arizona, Florida and Texas. According to the Orange County Register’s report, KB Homes has seen such high demand that it has decided to make solar panel installations standard in all homes of Southern California. Even Habitat for Humanity is trying to encourage its affiliates to build ultra energy efficient homes, keeping families in need off the grid and with no power bills. With features like lower energy bills, full home automation and envy from the neighbors, these homes will likely come to a city near you soon.