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Home builder Meritage Homes has announced the development of the state's first zero net energy community in Fontana, California.


First Zero Net Energy Community In California Announced

Home builder Meritage Homes has announced the development of the state’s first zero net energy community in Fontana, California.

Meritage Homes is opening the first zero net energy community in California in Fontana, which is about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Twenty of their Sierra Crest homes comprise the community. It is expected that 6 of the 20 will be ready by July of this year.

meritage homes

According to CR Herro from Meritage Homes,

There are several ZNE homes throughout California, but none clustered at one community. This community not only allows the value of operation cost reduction to the homeowners, but provides much-needed data to the utilities about kW production and demand at each home, and cumulatively at the transformer level to provide needed data to design service for community level Zero Energy as California building code progresses toward this standard.

Zero net energy means a building with net energy consumption of zero over the course of a year. The Meritage Homes achieve zero net energy by using fresh air ventilation,  solar power systems, heat pumps, highly insulated windows, energy-efficient lighting, smart appliances, HVAC systems, and smart chargers. It is expected that the Sierra Crest homes will use 60% less energy than a newly built home that is in line with the current California Energy Code.

Because of the use of energy-efficient technology, these homes only need 3.5 – 4.5 kW solar power systems, instead of 7-10 kW ones. The price range is in the high $300,000s up to  $431,000 with sizes from 1,900 square feet to 2,900.

Building and home energy use is a major contributor of climate change emissions, so reducing home energy consumption would decrease those emissions. Net zero energy is also clearly very important, because we will need less energy per net zero home or building. This fact means it may be easier to transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Additionally, there is a something of a hidden story within this story. Energy storage for homes is starting to appear on the horizon. In particular, the interest Tesla has shown in developing and selling home energy storage battery systems means at some point it may become for homeowners to be able to store electricity.

So, combining a net zero home with solar power and home energy storage could mean that a homeowner could be almost completely self-sufficient when it comes to energy management. It might be possible for homeowners to generate more electricity than they use and perhaps even sell it back to a community grid. It should also be possible for more people to charge the batteries in their electric vehicles at home.

Image Credit: Meritage Homes

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