Solar Now Standard on SoCal KB Homes 0

Solar has become mainstream enough that one homebuilder has found a marketing advantage in offering solar as a standard in its new homes.

KB Homes now includes the maximum sized rooftop solar array on all of its new homes in 28 Southern California neighborhoods.

KB began offering solar as an option more than a year ago. The reception was so popular that in March the company started to include a 1.4-kilowatt solar array as standard in the base price of homes in some of its Southern California neighborhoods, said KB spokesman Craig LeMessurier.

“The response was overwhelming,” LeMessurier said. “We saw a tremendous increase in traffic.”

Home buyers in those neighborhoods could opt to upgrade to a 3.15-kilowatt system if their home was big enough. And a 30 percent Federal tax rebate would cover the cost of the upgrade, LeMessurier said. The upgrades became so automatic that KB decided this month to include the maximum-size SunPower system on all of its Southern California homes.

“We are competitive with other new homes in the areas where we build,” LeMessurier said. “But our biggest competitor is resale homes.”

While resale homes are on the market for significantly less, LeMessurier said people seem to be more inquisitive about the overall cost of homeownership than they have been in the past, and they are drawn to energy- and water-saving technologies included in new construction.

“People don’t want to pay $300 energy bills,” he said.

KB is dedicated to building its homes with energy efficient and water-saving technology to begin with, which means the new homes have lower energy costs even without the solar arrays.

Riverside, Calif., residents report an average utility bill of about $195 a month, LeMessurier wrote in an e-mail. But a one-story, four bedroom home in KB Home’s Newbury at the Enclave in Eastvale, Calif., has an estimated utility bill of $108 without solar. The full-size 3.15-kilowatt array brings the total utility bill down to just $27 a month on average, LeMessurier said.

“The photovoltaic solar systems will help KB homeowners significantly reduce their monthly energy bills and ongoing cost of homeownership,” LeMessurier said, “while also benefiting the environment.”

Photo: Robin Jerstad / Copyright 2011 by Robin Jerstad-Jerstad Photographics LLC-All Rights Reserved.

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