Solar Comes Standard in New Sacramento Subdivision

Solar is increasingly being incorporated in new California housing developments, but the price is usually out of reach for the average person. Premier Homes is building a 95-home subdivision in the Sacramento area where an average priced home will come with solar and energy efficient features as standard.

Premier has offered solar as an option in previous developments, but the price tag was in the $500,000 range. Single-family homes in the Sacramento development will range in price from $244,900 to $332,990.

The energy-efficient features add $10,000-15,000 to the cost of a home and include:

* efficient heating and air conditioning, including Energy Star-rated appliances and windows
* tight duct work and R-38 insulation;
* on-demand tankless water heater
* fluorescent lighting
* a 2-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system

Premier expects residents to spend 60% less on energy bills compared to conventionally built homes.

The homes will conform to the US Department of Energy’s “zero-energy” design and to SMUD Solar Advantage and Advantage Homes. SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District), the local utility, is giving Premier $200 per home for advanced energy-efficiency features and about $7,000 per home toward the cost of each solar PV system. SMUD also offered $20,000 to help market the homes. Since Premier is constructing the entire subdivision with the energy efficient and solar features, the company will benefit from economies of scale, also lowering its costs.

SMUD Advantage Homes exceed California’s building code (Title 24) for home energy cooling requirements – among the most stringent in the nation – by 50%. Homebuyers may qualify for energy-efficiency mortgages which will help defray the up-front costs of the energy efficient features.

Premier believes gaining these certifications will raise the company’s profile in the community. “The market will be wanting more energy efficiency in California as time goes on and we want to stay ahead of it,” said a spokesperson.

Morrison Homes is building a 120-home gated subdivision in nearby Elk Grove. The energy efficiency package is optional and adds $18,000 to the price. The builder says homebuyers will save up to 72% in energy costs.

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