Last week I attended an expo of new home builders and was impressed at the emphasis on sustainability, including solar-equipped or solar ready homes.
Most of the builders were promoting their “green” features and their low HERS scores.
“HERS” stands for Home Energy Rating System, and a HERS score of 100 represents the energy rating of a home built to current building codes. A home built to “Energy Star” standards (which entails such things as improved insulation, windows and highly efficient appliances) would earn a HERS score of 70. A “net-zero” home would have a HERS score of zero.
Meritage Homes is clearly the leader in building energy efficient homes, claiming such distinctions as “First Energy Star Production Builder,” “First Net-Zero Production Builder,” and “First Builder with Community HERS Rating Under 40.” None of the other builders I met at last week’s expo were quoting HERS scores under 60, but all were boasting many “green” features and some were building homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Meritage is not currently building anywhere in Jefferson County, but has a half dozen communities in Denver’s southeast suburbs and another half dozen in the northern suburbs. You can find them online at www.MeritageHomes.com.
It’s great that builders are creating this kind of market consciousness regarding energy efficiency and solar powered homes. However, I am still finding that energy efficiency and sustainability is the last thing on the minds of the buyers of existing homes.
Most buyers of existing homes are impressed by kitchens, bathrooms, stainless steel appliances (forget Energy Star ratings), hardwood floors, slab granite, etc., and are, for the most part, unimpressed by sales pitches such as for the solar-powered home I have listed at 16488 W. 55th Drive. (Tour it only at www.JeffcoSolarHomes.com) .
The result of this disinterest, which I’ve complained about before, is that homes with solar systems and other energy features are selling for no more, and sometimes less, than homes without such features.
My solar-powered home mentioned above, for example, is priced competitively with homes which do not provide their owners with free electricity, even though that represents a savings of thousands of dollars per year to the homeowner.
Because of this disinterest, I tell those who are interested in solar, “Don’t install a PV system on your current home — buy an existing home with solar and you’ll get it free!” As a PV booster, I hate to say it, but it’s true. Sellers recoup little, if any, of their investment upon resale. They only recoup their investment by staying put and paying little or nothing for electricity.