The home Valerie McNary and Cindy Cooper purchased on Hunters Cove in Evans came with a bonus beyond their bonus room.
The 2,483-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home is likely the first home in Columbia County to earn certification as an Energy Star compliant house, Ivey Residential LLC officials and home energy raters say.
To achieve Energy Star compliance, builders must insulate and seal homes according to strict standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to prevent loss of climate-controlled air to the outside and the spread of heat from attics and other areas into living spaces.
Tracy Thompson, an Energy Star rater for Comfort Home Corp./EIC Inc., said the home is the first his company has certified in Columbia County.
He said that on average, Energy Star-compliant homes save consumers 30 percent on their electric bills, which amounts to $400 to $700 savings annually.
"It's for the consumer. The builder doesn't benefit near as much as the consumer does," Thompson said.
Jonathan Passe, a spokesman for Energy Star Residential Programs, a division of the EPA, said that generally, Energy Star compliancy adds minimal cost to construction.
Often, he said, teaching builders efficient ways to frame a home, coupled with more extensive insulation and sealing, can save builders and homeowners money because energy-efficient structures require smaller, less-expensive central air and heating systems.
Jay Frye, a manager for Ivey Residential, said compliancy added about 50 cents per square foot to the cost of the home, a increase that the owners of the $250,000 Hunters Cove residence should recoup within two years. Currently, the company has 50 to 60 homes under construction or in the planning stages to be Energy Star-compliant and plans to build all their homes that way in the future.
"With energy prices rising as they have the past few years, we were looking for ways that we could increase our building's (energy) efficiency to help our buyers offset energy costs," said Matt Ivey, the co-owner of Ivey Residential.
Nationally, about 627,000 houses, apartments and prefabricated homes have been certified as Energy Star compliant as of July 2006, Passe said. In Georgia, about 1,300 homes are certified - roughly 1,000 are in the metro Atlanta area.
Ivey Residential isn't the only builder in the area who has joined with the Energy Star program. Southcraft Builders LLC has built six Energy Star homes in Augusta since June 2005, Passe said, and in 2006, Collier Construction Co. Inc. also joined the partnership.
Cooper said she and McNary were looking for a newly built, single story home and liked the fact that the Hunters Cove house was in a new development.
"It's a bonus," Cooper said of the Energy Star certification. "We would have purchased the home even without that, but it's a definite plus."
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