Tucson resident Oakley Lutes and his wife, Karen, have owned many homes in their lifetime. So when they built their new home last year to be closer to their adult children, they knew they wanted a home that would be comfortable, quiet and energy efficient for their retirement years.

“We built only one other home from scratch. A friend of mine was a builder, so he took extra care to build us a quality home – but it wasn’t an ENERGY STAR® certified home,” said Oakley. “When KB Homes offered us an Energy Smart Home, we just had to take advantage of it.”

When the Lutes moved into their new 1,500 square foot 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Estrella Estates in August 2020, they immediately saw the difference in their comfort – and their energy bills.

“The home is quieter and we’re seeing lower gas and electric bills. The air conditioning system is also so much more efficient and doesn’t run as often to keep the temperature in our home consistent,” Oakley said.

They often compare their electric bills with their daughter’s, whose home is roughly the same size as theirs. In just five months from March through July, the Lutes’ energy bills were $262 less.

That’s because homes built by TEP’s Energy Smart Home builder partners are tested, verified and certified to meet hundreds of critical construction and energy efficiency standards established by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. They must meet or exceed ENERGY STAR’s strict building standards.

A home is most people’s largest investment. Because you can’t see what’s behind the walls, buying an ENERGY STAR home from a TEP Energy Smart Home builder is the best way to ensure that your home will be comfortable and durable for many years. Just some of the features of these ENERGY STAR homes include:

  • Proper insulation in the walls and roof provides even temperatures throughout the home year-round, reducing energy use and improving comfort.
  • High-performance low-E windows keep heat in during winter and out during summer while blocking damaging ultraviolet sunlight that can fade carpet and furnishings.
  • Tight construction in the home’s building envelope, in conjunction with sealed heating and cooling ducts, will reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen and noise.
  • A high-efficiency cooling and heating system saves energy and improves comfort.
  • ENERGY STAR appliances, lighting, fans and fixtures help trim the energy costs of everyday living.

TEP Technical Specialist Gabriel Esquibel helps builders meet the program’s high standards. He said all of them take great care to ensure the highest quality.

“The builders in our Energy Smart Home program are passionate about the homes they build and are committed to energy efficiency and high quality construction,” he said. “They build homes to higher standards because they realize people want peace of mind that their home will be comfortable, efficient and durable for many years.”

KB Homes is among 13 Tucson-area builders that participate in TEP’s Energy Smart Homes program. Statewide, more than 130 builders have collectively built approximately 200,000 ENERGY STAR homes, which are up to 20 percent more efficient than standard construction homes.

Other TEP Energy Smart Home builders include:

Oakley said he would advise anyone thinking about new home construction to consider an Energy Smart Home. “I just think the better insulation, quality design and construction, quietness and efficiency all packaged together has been a real blessing to us,” he said.

For a list of all ENERGY STAR builders in Arizona, visit Energystar.gov.

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