Solar Energy Will Be Standard Feature in New Homes

Shea Homes San Diego announced in January that it is introducing the “Shea High Performance Home.” All new homes will be built to standards that are 38 percent more efficient than California Title 24 guidelines and will offer solar electric power and water heating as standard features. Homeowners will be able to reduce their utility bills up to 80 percent compared to a conventionally built home.

The company plans to build about 200 high performance homes over the next 18 months in its new Scripps Highlands community, located 15 miles north of downtown San Diego. 100 houses will be outfitted with solar panels that generate 1,500 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, in addition to conventional electricity. Another 160 homes will offer solar panels as an option. The panels add about $6,000 to the cost of a homes, which sell in the $400,000 – $600,000 range.

As a result of the current California energy crisis, San Diego homeowners pay 10 times more for electricity and twice as much for natural gas as they did a year ago. Mark Brock, Shea Homes San Diego president notes, “The Shea High Performance Home gives our buyers much greater control when there are energy issues like we’re experiencing now. We see it as innovative – no other builder is doing anything like it – but we really developed it because it’s the right thing to do for the environment and for our customers. It’s all about comfort, performance, and adding value to their investment.”

Said Scott Anders, project manager of the San Diego Regional Energy Office, “If just 10 percent of the homes built in San Diego over the next 20 years were as energy efficient and able to fulfill some of their own energy needs, the region would save enough electricity to power more than 15,000 homes.”

“It’s been a long-term goal of our industry in the U.S. to have solar electric home power systems become a standard feature in new home construction” said Howard Wenger of AstroPower, one of the program partners. Its SunChoice Solar Electric Home Power System is a national program designed to make solar power affordable and easy to obtain. Shea Homes will be also be outfitted with ConSol’s ComfortWise energy efficient systems and Sun System’s solar hot water technology.

Shea Homes San Diego is a division of the J.F. Shea Co. that operates in California, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina. It is the largest privately owned building firm in the U.S. and the 10th largest home builder.

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