KB Home, Ford team up on energy efficiency

Homebuilder KB home, Ford team up to promote energy-efficient homes, vehicles

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- KB Home is teaming up with Ford Motor Co. in hopes of making energy efficiency a more compelling proposition to would-be homeowners who also drive hybrid and plug-in vehicles.

The homebuilder-automaker partnership announced Friday doesn't involve any financial considerations, the companies said.

Instead, executives at both companies acknowledge the potential for appealing to each other's environmentally conscious customers.

"It's about increased sales, but also how we demonstrate to customers that there's real value in each and every house," said Dan Bridleman, senior vice president of sustainable technology and purchasing at KB Home.

The Los Angeles-based builder is showcasing the energy savings that can be achieved when one pairs its latest model of a net-zero home and a plug-in vehicle from Ford.

Net-zero homes generate electricity through solar power or other forms of alternative energy, in addition to being decked out with appliances and other environmentally-friendly features that ultimately reduce the owner's power bill to zero. That typically happens because the home generates more energy than it consumes. It then sends the excess to a power grid and builds a credit.

Many homebuilders have made building energy efficient homes a priority in recent years in a bid to make their houses a more attractive option for would-be buyers amid competition from often less-expensive, previously owned homes on the market.

KB's latest net-zero home, located in San Marcos, Calif., includes a bevy of energy-saving appliances by Whirlpool, a 5 kilowatt solar power system and outlet for a plug-in vehicle, among other features.

The appliances and Ford's plug-in vehicles, including the C-MAX Energi, all can tap into a database developed by the automaker that enables them to begin their charging cycle when electricity rates in their area are lowest.

That enables a refrigerator, for example, to perform high-energy tasks, such as making ice or defrosting, during the times of the day when electricity is less expensive.

Ford said its database covers nearly 75 million U.S homes, or about half the nation's population. The company expects to expand that to more than two-thirds of the U.S. population by summer.

A net-zero home in KB's San Marcos community starts in the mid-$400,000s.

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