Meritage Homes is offering solar systems that generate electricity and hot water on its homes in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. As an optional upgrade, the Echo solar system from EchoFirst delivers twice the energy of a basic solar electric PV system by supplementing conventional panels with solar thermal technology that captures heat from the PV panels. Homes with the $16,000 option will use between 70% and 80% less energy than a standard code-built home, the company says. All of the company’s home are built to the Energy Star for Homes standard.
With close to a dozen of the systems constructed or in process on Meritage projects, the option has been extremely well received by customers, says Tom Fitzpatrick, residential sales director for Southern Energy Management, Meritage’s solar power installer. “This option makes the entire process easier and more affordable, and people get to enjoy energy savings in their new home starting with the very first utility bill,” he says.