Melbourne, FL – March 04, 2012 – The buzz has been building for several months now about new and more demanding targets for high performance homes coming from the federal government. There are draft proposals out there, and final decisions are expected at most any time now.
At LifeStyle Homes, we are grateful to all of the people for all of the work that went into formulating the Energy Star program from EPA and the more aggressive Builders Challenge program from EPA’s parent, the U. S. Department of Energy. We are also grateful to be world class building scientists at the Florida Solar Energy Center, in nearby Cocoa, FL, who were both instrumental in setting the federal standards and also responsible for our taking the energy efficiency journey as a company. We would not have known how to find the optimum balance between initial cost and monthly savings on our own. They led us every step of the way toward designing our guaranteed HERS 60 SunSmart (SM) energy efficient homes and our truly remarkable HERS 0 (zero) photovoltaic-powered, SunSmartPV(SM) homes, which in a year’s time generate as much electricity from the free power of the Sun as they consume. That performance earns LifeStyle SunSmartPV(SM) homes the official title of Net Zero Energy Homes because the money earned by selling the excess electricity they generate when the Sun is shining, balances the money their owners must pay for the power they have to buy when the Sun isn’t shining. This produces a Net Zero power bill for the year!
LifeStyle Homes is proud to be the first home builder in Brevard County, and only the forty-first in the nation to qualify as a Builders Challenge partner. Because of the help we received from FSEC, we found it possible to exceed the performance standards of the Builders Challenge program while still preserving what we think is a critical hallmark of the program: cost neutrality.
The principle of cost neutrality, which the government invented and imposed as part of the Builders Challenge, says that for every dollar a typical monthly mortgage payment must rise because of the higher cost to construct qualifying homes, there must be a guaranteed savings of a dollar in monthly utility costs. This is huge.
This says that owners of LifeStyle SunSmart℠ homes do not have to pay for the contributions their homes make to environmental protection because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those benefits come free in the same deal that creates the substantial monthly energy cost savings that each of them enjoys.
We believe this cost neutrality is DIRECTLY responsible for so many LifeStyle SunSmart(SM) homes being bought and built. It’s much easier for homeowners to help protect our environment when helping that way doesn’t cost them extra. We also believe the best green homes are green homes that are actually built and lived in; not the ones some people talk about but most folks can’t afford.
The trouble comes when conservation enthusiasts ask the rest of us to pay extra for what THEY WANT us to do. Life doesn’t work well that way, and neither does the free enterprise system. The better way is to make it easy for people to do the right thing because it saves them money.
That’s why we intend to cling to the cost neutrality principle going forward in our Energy Efficiency Initiative at LifeStyle Homes, and we hope the federal government does also.
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