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Research indicates that energy efficiency and the integration of renewable energy technologies have become important factors in increasing home value. A recent survey conducted by the California Energy Commission indicates that more than 60 percent of California homeowners would be more interested in a home equipped with a solar or wind energy system versus one without, and 50 percent would be willing to pay more for that home.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems convert the sun's light directly into electricity and provide clean power for the home. Major builders like Pardee Homes and US Homes, are realizing the benefits of these sun-capturing systems and have begun incorporating rooftop PV systems as standard features in developments throughout California. Combined with other energy efficiency measures like ENERGY STAR® labeled products and other "green" materials, the result is reduced energy costs, improved efficiency and added home value.

One example is Village Green, a 116-unit, energy-efficient development in Sylmar, California, built in partnership with Fannie Mae. According to Barbara Zeidman, director of the Los Angeles Fannie Mae Partnership Office, the average Village Green resident pays $20 a month in utility bills compared to $200 a month for other Sylmar residents. Zeidman attributes the savings to the solar PV cells in the roofing system combined with other energy-saving technologies: "In Village Green, resale values have gone up and the residents' reduced monthly bills are proof that these types of systems make a genuine difference to their pocketbooks."

In 1998 and 1999, the Appraisal Journal published research that concluded energy efficiency increases home value by about $20 for every $1 reduction in annual fuel bills. Two scientific studies, " Evidence of Rational Market Evaluations For Home Energy Efficiency" and " More Evidence of Rational Market Evaluations For Home Energy Efficiency", conducted by Rick Nevin of ICF Consulting, demonstrate how simple energy-efficiency home improvements can translate into added value when it's time to sell a home.

Another homebuilder, KD Development in San Diego, incorporates energy efficiency and solar PV into new multifamily-unit design and construction. According to Mike Turk, owner of KD Development, their homes are more attractive to buyers because of their energy-efficient upgrades and solar panels. KD developed a seven-unit complex in Mission Beach with 2.5 kilowatt (kW) rooftop systems that generate approximately 80 percent of the electricity. "Homeowners are especially pleased with the low maintenance and high performance of these systems."

The KD complexes are also equipped with ENERGY STAR appliances and other efficient features including hydronic heating and tankless hot water heating systems, super-insulated walls and ceilings, double-pane low E glass windows, and energy-efficient indoor and outdoor lighting. "We provide the tools, then it's up to the homeowner to maximize energy efficiency," says Turk.

Consumers and builders ready to install a solar or wind energy system can take advantage of rebates available through the California Energy Commission. Tax credits also make it an affordable investment.

For more information on all renewable energy systems, rebate applications, equipment certification, or a list of retailers and installers, visit www.consumerenergycenter.org.

Tim Tutt is the technical director for the California Energy Commission's Renewable Energy Program.

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