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Ultra energy-efficient net-zero homes being built in Lake Forest

December 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
In Southern California, a 2,300-square-foot home could cost you $200 to $300 a month in electric bills.

Imagine never having to pay an electricity bill again, or better yet, getting money back from the utility company.

You can do that by living in a net-zero home, but until now those ultra energy-efficient homes had to be custom made.

Home builder KB Home is now selling the first net zero energy tract homes in California. They're being built in Lake Forest.

"Our company wants to be on the cutting edge of new technology for homes, and we thought California would be a natural place to try this," said Steve Ruffner, president of homebuilding company KB Home Southern California.

It used to be only custom homes could produce net-zero energy, but technology has made it affordable today, from LED lighting to dual pane argon glass windows and energy-efficient appliances to programmable thermostats,.

But the star of saving energy - solar panels - also generates it.

"Here in our homes, they'll spend nothing, and that's huge," Ruffner said. "Thanks to Edison working with all the Southern California folks, the Edison company will actually buy your power back (that you saved) if you choose at the end of the year."

Most of the energy savers are extra cost options, but with tax credits and electric bill savings, most of the additional costs are offset.

KB plans to expand the concept and does offer solar as a standard feature at all of their developments.


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