SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is now the leading utility in the nation in terms of new homes that have solar panels installed during construction. The SMUD SolarSmart Homes program commenced in 2006 and, despite the intervening housing downturn, SMUD has worked with 18 local, regional and national homebuilders to construct more than 1,000 of these energy-producing and energy-saving homes in its service territory. SolarSmart Homes is a SMUD program that combines solar power and advanced energy efficiency measures in new home design and construction.
SMUD provides incentives to builders to buy down the cost of the solar electric systems and provides rebates for energy efficiency upgrades. These rebates and incentives, along with attractive tax credits, make solar electric systems a more affordable option for more homebuyers. Residents of these homes may save as much as 60 percent annually on their energy bills through the energy-efficient features and the solar roof panels that generate electricity. SolarSmart homes provide customers better value and comfort, especially long term.
The entire SMUD customer community benefits as well from solar home developments in terms of lower power costs for all customers. SolarSmart homes produce the most energy when it’s most needed—on hot summer days—so less electricity will be needed to serve these homes. That is also the same time when power starts to become more expensive for a utility to buy. Cumulatively, the 1,041 SolarSmart homes are expected to produce up to 40 percent of the electricity needed by these homes. In addition to the solar panels, SolarSmart homes also boast many energy efficiency measures to help customers reduce their bills year-round. The energy efficiency measures include efficient HVAC systems, radiant barriers in attics, added insulation, duct sealing and energy-efficient compact fluorescent lighting.
The homes also deliver environmental benefits. They have up to a 40 percent smaller “carbon footprint” than conventional new homes. Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced. SMUD is also working with other builders to establish more solar partnerships in the near future, making solar homes available to even more customers in the SMUD service area.