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'Net-Zero' Home to Feature Solar Panels, $0 Electric Bills

Pre-fab homes and tract housing aren't typically associated with green living.

But as more buyers become attuned to high energy costs, homebuilders appear more willing to market homes that consume less power, water and other resources.

On Earth Day Friday, for example, Meritage Homes plans to make its "net-zero" home available to buyers in select markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and central Texas.

Already, Meritage has unveiled an Arizona housing development where

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Dow Chemical Unveils Net-Zero Energy Home in Michigan

Last week, the Dow Chemical Company and Cobblestone Homes in Michigan unveiled what is being billed as the nation's first affordable, net-zero energy home. The home, in other words, is designed to generate as much (or more) electricity than is needed -- resulting in a net-zero electric bill.

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Dow Chemical's Solar Shingles Due Out Next Year

Last October, GetSolar's Margaret Collins reviewed the potential pros and cons of solar shingles. As she mentions, one of the drawbacks of solar-shingle technology is that it is relatively inefficient. Compared to conventional framed solar modules, solar shingles don't produce as much electricity per square unit of area. This means homeowners need more shingles, and more roof space, to match the electricity output of smaller conventional solar panel installation. Further, on a pure price-per-watt basis, solar shingles are typically more expensive than conventional panels.

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