So, I read some more about Shea Homes striving for an “electric bill of zero” in 10 communities across the nation, including one in San Tan Valley. While I think the idea sounds cool and I’m glad we are getting closer to this being the norm, part of me wants to say…
“San Tan Valley? Really?”
Talk about one of the sprawl capitals of the universe. Driving from San Tan Valley to one Diamondbacks game in the Suburban could just about burn half a month’s worth of savings from a normal electric bill…
I looked at the “Walk Score” of some listings in that area and came up with numbers like, 5, 9, 11, 12, 14, 17, etc. Heck, when I saw a walk score in the high 30’s, I thought I was doing AWESOME!
I’m not sure if you have heard, but gas prices are rising. As the real estate market begins to heat up again here in the Valley, one would hope that people remember to factor in the housing and transportation “affordability factor” when making their decision on where to live. For me, you couldn’t GIVE me the home if I had to be in the car an extra hour and a half each day.
The New Normal:
While zero electric bill community builders are to be commended for reducing utility costs, the real story ( in my opinion ) is we are closer to hearing of low to no energy consumption communities becoming even more prevalent in the future. As the cost to build homes with solar power, new energy efficient technologies, better insulation, etc. becomes more affordable, we will see more infill developments in great locations. As developers begin building more communities where each person’s energy consumption is far less than what is normal by today’s standards, the economic and environmental impact will be far reaching. As homeowners spend less on power, they will have the ability to buy homes in areas that may have previously been out of reach.
“So much of the cost of these systems is, frankly, the intellectual capital to design it for each individual house,” Andreen said. “The cost of that can be spread over hundreds of homes, not one home, and that’s a huge difference.” – Shea Homes
Small disclaimer: I am not trying to bash or take away from any lifestyle, area of town, or home builder. Heck, as a real estate agent, I have sold many new homes in the burbs and that lifestyle is just right for some of my very good friends.