Imagine a home that can save nearly 50,000 gallons of water a year, has an electric bill that could be next to nothing, and can be monitored and controlled from your smartphone. Such homes are already available in a number of residential subdivisions in Southern California, where houses are oriented to take advantage of the abundant sunshine with roof-mounted solar power systems. By combining an efficient building envelope, energy-conserving lighting, appliances and fixtures, with a renewable energy source in the form of a solar power system, the home is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes. You can also remotely control such things as the home's thermostat, lights and even appliances, using your computer or smartphone.
KB Home launched its first net-zero-energy home in 2011—the ZeroHouse 2.0. The higher energy efficiency and better indoor air quality of these houses is the result of a whole-building approach to home design, with water-efficient faucets, showerheads and toilets, upgraded HVAC systems, dual-pane low-e windows, recycled content flooring, and LED lighting choices. Homebuyers can choose a fully net-zero design, or they can select from a menu of sustainability features and options.
A national rollout of the net-zero energy homes reached Lake Forest, California in late 2011, and now Orange County residents and homebuyers throughout Southern California can choose a KB Home that may eliminate their monthly electricity charges entirely. A development near the city of Los Angeles includes a community garden, secured bike storage, and electric-vehicle charging stations—amenities that are intended to support and promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
The home builder recently announced that solar power systems are a standard feature of homes at 29 of its communities in Southern California, with over 80% of its communities offering it as a standard or optional feature. The environmental benefits of the more than 300 homes built with solar power systems in Southern California are estimated to be equivalent to planting over 2,400 acres of trees, or removing more than 2,000 cars from the road for one year.
Is there a net zero home available in your area?
Credits: Photo courtesy of KB Home and Water Sense logo provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Other data linked to sources.