“What we’ve seen over time is that water conservation can keep the water use level even as the population increases,” Stoner added. “What we have is the ability for people over time to continue to moderate their water use without sacrificing anything.”
In the family room, the walls are covered with a gray paint, free of toxins. The floor is covered in hardwood to minimize the pollutants often found in carpets.
Moran stood in front of a flat-panel TV mounted on the wall, demonstrating the energy monitoring system. He accessed the home’s energy data online, then displayed it on the screen.
A chart spread across the screen, showing hour-by-hour energy consumption and use. Power generated by the solar panels was represented by a yellow bar; energy usage was represented by a blue bar. The yellow lines become visible in the daylight hours, generally from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The readout from a recent day showed the house produced 50.76 kilowatts of power but used only 42.73 kilowatts, generating a credit of 8.02 kilowatts. The credits would act like rollover minutes on a cellphone and could be used to pay for months when energy usage exceeds production.
‘Major selling point’
“During the downturn, builders told us being able to point out the Energy Star label [for energy-efficient appliances and home features] was a major selling point,” Roland Risser, program manager of Department of Energy’s building technology program, said in a phone interview. “Now we’re seeing a step beyond Energy Star.”
KB Home acknowledges that the fully loaded eco-friendly house would only likely appeal to consumers on the extreme side of the energy efficiency spectrum.
Consumers can select as few or as many of the options as they want. Still, KB Home officials say they think most of the features will be standard on new houses in the not-too-distant future.
KB Home introduced the net-zero model earlier this year in California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado, states that are further along in the conservation movement because they’ve had to grapple with persistent water and power shortages.
Company officials say they decided to locate their first East Coast net-zero house in the Middletown Wood development because it has had strong sales there.
The model will open to the public June 23.