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You Don't Have to Live in a Yurt: Solar Panels to Come Standard On SoCal Homes

Last month, we profiled a new lineup of energy-efficient homes from Meritage Homes. Not to be outdone, KB Home today announced plans to make solar panels a standard feature at its new community in southern California.

Having recently acquired land in West Hills Village in Valencia, the company will build energy-efficient homes on 43 lots. Each home will come with a photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system that will reduce owners' electricity costs, saving thousands of dollars in the coming years. The PV solar panels will of course also benefit the environment.

Here's a requisite snippet from the press release:

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'Revolutionary' New Solar Energy System Picked Up By Several Home Builders

The most efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) panel on the market today is capable of turning about 20 percent of the sun's energy into electricity. This number is slowly but surely increasing, as technology continually improves. But in an ideal world, solar panels would convert a larger portion of the sun ray's into useful energy.

On this topic, EchoFirst may be onto something. In addition to using sunlight to generate electrical power, as conventional PV panels do, the company's energy system captures the sun's thermal energy, which may then be used for heating water and home air conditioning.

The result, according to the company, is a system that operates at around 50 percent efficiency. Here's more on how it works:

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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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New Arizona Community Boasts Nation's Most Energy Efficient Homes

If you're looking for a sign as to how far the solar energy industry has come in recent years, look no further than Gilbert, Arizona, a town in the Phoenix area that's aiming to become known for its solar-powered, energy-efficient communities. Last week, Gilbert became home to the Meritage Green Homes community, the first community in the United States whose standard home is 80 percent more energy efficient than the national average.

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