New Solar Homes Ready for Electric Cars
Here’s the present: Your new townhome is so energy efficient that the rooftop solar panels providing electricity are also wired for a battery charging station in the garage for an electric car, should you decide to buy one.
Here’s the not-too-distant future: A Nissan Leaf comes with the purchase price of the home.
“Think of it,” says Herb Gardner, president of home building at City Ventures of Santa Ana, California. “You’re buying a green home and driving a car with no gasoline bill. That’s $300 a month in savings, maybe more.”
City Ventures is building four southern California townhome communities where energy efficiency is a major selling point – 88 units in Alhambra, just south of Pasadena; 54 in Signal Hill, a town within the city of Long Beach; 48 in Santa Barbara and 30 in Brea, a town in Orange County.
Through mid-August, about a quarter of them had been sold.
In addition to solar panels as standard equipment, the townhomes come equipped pre-wired for owners who want to take the next step toward energy efficiency, a gas-free car. City Ventures is partnering with Nissan to arrange for charging stations and, for future projects, to include an electric car as part of the home purchase price.
Gardner compares these innovations to the microwave oven, 25 years ago. Back then, new homes didn’t have them. Now, they do.
“A car with the house—it’s kinda neat if you think about it,” says Gardner, with an eye toward current gas prices near $4 a gallon. “We specialize in urban in-fill. The electric car has always been the enemy because they only get 100 miles or so on a charge. If you live near where you work, it’s not an issue. We’re encouraging people to live near where they work so they don’t have to worry. It’s a heckuva market advantage. Most people buying a home think location first, then price, then green is a bonus.”
The bonus would be obvious to any current home owner, especially one living with older, inefficient energy construction. Solar panels routinely save 30 percent and more on a monthly electric bill. Then, add on savings from a car that doesn’t need a $40-$60 fill-up once or twice a month.
The City Ventures townhomes come in various designs, ranging in size from 1,100 square feet to more than 3,000 and in price from the low $300,000s to the mid-$400,000s.
The United States is not the only country greening new homes to this extent. Similar efforts are underway in Canada and Japan.
Gardner said it makes sense from a selling and buying perspective. City Ventures takes the view that increasing numbers of buyers of newly-constructed homes will insist upon “green” upgrades as standard equipment, much in the way car airbags went from an option to standard equipment.
Comparing homes at similar prince points, buyers will be drawn to one that promises significant energy savings, and even if homes that come with a car are more expensive, energy and fuel savings will eventually offset the added up-front cost.
“This is the future of home building,” Gardner said. “We approach it as the only way to get people to buy is to enhance our homes with energy efficiency, and we do that by showing them how it can have a positive affect on their pocketbook.”