• Photovoltaic shingles on the rear of a home in Beazer's Terraza at Villago in Phoenix collect solar energy that homeowners will lease from SolarCity.
    Photovoltaic shingles on the rear of a home in Beazer's Terraza at Villago in Phoenix collect solar energy that homeowners will lease from SolarCity.
Beazer Homes is expanding its green-built offerings in Phoenix by giving buyers the option to lease solar panels, thereby lowering utility bills without the dissuasive upfront costs of sun-harnessing technology.

Already, the Atlanta-based production builder’s eSMART green building model—standard on all of its homes as of January—features water- and energy-saving products such as low-E windows, tankless water heaters, Energy Star-rated appliances, dual-flush toilets, home energy monitoring, and compact fluorescent bulbs along with fresh-air ventilated ducts, MERV-8 filters, and low-VOC paints to improve air quality.

Homes in Beazer’s Terraza at Villago development in Phoenix now also will come with the necessary attachments for a solar panel array. Instead of buying the PV equipment, which can carry an upfront cost from $15,000 to $60,000, homeowners can utilize SolarCity’s SolarLease program: SolarCity installs panels for zero down payment and then leases the electricity back with a monthly price lower than what the home’s energy costs would be.

“It’s a way for them to save money on their utility bill,” says regional marketing manager Jennifer Puma, “but there’s different levels of savings depending on the size of the unit they’re getting. It’s very plan specific.”

A SolarCity consultant works with the homeowner to determine the size of solar unit and lease rate based on the house’s sun exposure and how much solar energy the homeowner would like to use. After installation, the company provides monitoring and performance guarantees, performs maintenance and repairs, and allows for future upgrades.

In addition to solar panels, home buyers can opt for solar-integrated roof tiles.

The eSMART homes in the 99-unit Terraza at Villago start from the low $100s, with two-, three-, and four-bedroom models ranging from 1,345 square feet to more than 2,300 square feet.

Beazer says the solar program works best in warmer climates with low cloud coverage, but it may branch out to other areas if the program takes off. 

“We just got started with the program, and our other divisions are very interested in seeing what happens,” says Puma. “So it’s a wait-and-see approach at this point, but there is a lot of interest right now.”

Evelyn Royer is an editorial assistant for EcoHome.