Friday, March 11, 2011 | 9:34 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
Some people might balk at a model home with exposed insulation and toilets sawed in half.
But the folks at Meritage Homes, which unveiled an Extreme Green model home at a sales center at the Providence master-planned community Friday, see it differently.
They see the “deconstructed” model as a chance to teach consumers about renewable energy and the ways it will be incorporated into houses in the future.
Meritage Homes, one of the top 10 homebuilders in the U.S., plans to start building these Extreme Green homes in their Providence and Mountain’s Edge communities in the near future.
The model home is loaded with signs explaining each of the house’s energy-saving features: Solar water heaters. Spray foam insulation. Double vinyl, low-E windows. A 14 SEER air conditioning unit. Even dual flush actuator toilets.
The idea, Meritage Homes regional President Fred Hermann said to an audience that included Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, is to help people understand that living in an energy-efficient home can be easy.
“You will live better every day in this house,” Hermann said. “It doesn’t require people to change their entire lives.”
Nor does it require them to break their checkbooks. That’s the idea, anyway. The homes sell for between $151,900 and $229,900 and range from 2,000 to 2,500 square feet. On top of that, Meritage Homes estimated the homes’ energy-saving features should save owners up to 50 percent of their previous energy costs.
Alexia Vernon, who snipped the green ribbon with Goodman, and her husband were touted as the first Extreme Green homebuyers. They’ve lived in the valley for six years, Vernon said, and were impressed with the Extreme Green model because of its “integrated approach. These aren’t just a few flashy features.”
“We want to be a part of a community like this,” she said. “This one just topped all of the competition.”
Goodman said Meritage Homes’ goals fell in line with Las Vegas’ larger efforts to build a sustainable community. He gave the city’s plan to convert all of its vehicles to alternate energy as an example.
“We need to find ways to make our city more sustainable, instead of just talking about it,” he said. “This is an addition to what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
For the launch of its Extreme Green model, Meritage Homes has also teamed with NV Energy to offer a complete solar energy system, including solar panels on the roof and a solar water heating system, for its first homebuyers.
Consumers in that program could see energy savings of up to 80 percent, the company estimated, although it includes a $54 monthly payment to cover the system. Still, users should see more cash in their pockets over the long term, said Bob Stewart, senior vice president for customer relationships at NV Energy.
Stewart agreed with Hermann that one of the biggest obstacles facing companies with renewable energy programs is convincing customers energy efficiency is possible without upending their lives.
“The biggest challenge is getting information out about how people can improve their energy usage,” he said. “They’re really going to see how it works here. That’s what we’re striving for.”
The Extreme Green model home is located at 10549 Galleon Peak Lane, off Crescent Mountain Road in Providence. For more information, visit the Meritage Homes website.