Houston Gets Greener with Itsy-Bitsy, Energy Efficient Homes


KB Home's 881-square-foot eco-home. Image credit: KB Home.

Thinking about making a move into a home, but really, really want a green space? We stumbled across the perfect (little) eco-home.

Now, we're not going to lie—these homes are small . . . really small. (Check out the floor plan after the jump!)While a not-so-whopping 881-square-feet might sound too tiny to some, we at Naturally Savvy think it's the perfect sized home for singles, a young couple or a small family. The two-bedroom homes from U.S. national developer KB Home feature an open-concept kitchen/living/dining room on the main floor, with the bedrooms, a laundry room and a full bath on the upper level. There's also a two-bay tandem garage to park your hybrid or electric car.

Here's the floor plan:


Image credit: KB Home
Energy Efficient Appliances and Features

A small home automatically requires less heating and cooling, so you're already saving energy and the environment by opting for a smaller space. Other eco-friendly features that makes these homes Energy Star qualified include:

-Low-e windows (the "e" stands for emittance or emissivity) feature a metallic oxide coating that doesn't let heat or UV-rays pass through, which will keep warm air in during the winter and prevent heat from the blazing summer sun from turning your home into a sauna in the summer.
-Energy Star certified air conditioners. Cooling systems are almost a necessity in Houston, so these small spaces are equipped with 14-SEER air conditioners. (SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which basically rates the efficiency of cooling systems; the higher the number, the more efficient the system.) A 14-SEER system is the cutoff for Energy Star heating and cooling systems, which are the 25 percent most efficient units.
-Water-saving Moen faucets and low-flow toilets that aid in conserving H20.
-low-VOC paint by Sherwin-Williams and KB Home (an exclusive co-branded product) is used throughout the home.
-Energy-efficient appliances are standard and extra-energy-efficient models are optional.
-Eco-friendly carpet that meets the Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label Plus low-VOC standard, and that contains post-consumer recycled content--diverting old carpeting from landfills.
-Programmable thermostats helps home-owners keep their energy usage in check (so long as they keep the house a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter months).
-Upgraded insulation prevents heat and cool loss.

Tankless Water Heaters, Bamboo Flooring, and more!

In addition, there are tons of eco-friendly options available through the company's My Home, My Earth program, including things like 100 percent recycled carpet, tankless hot water heaters and oh-so-sustainable bamboo flooring.

Since formaldehyde-free kitchen cabinetry isn't one of those usual upgrades, we suggest taking a little time to negotiate options when you're buying. First off, ask if there's any possible way you can get a formaldehyde-free kitchen installed. If that's a no-go, I'd ask the builder to see if you can get those extras at no additional cost—like the bamboo flooring (I really hate carpet!) and tankless water heater—instead of a finished kitchen. Why install something you're just going to rip out?

Beyond Houston, We Hope...

The bad news: These homes are only on offer in three Houston subdivisions.

The good news: If Houstonians get on board with this shift to smaller spaces, KB Home plans to offer this design in other developments across the country. Other than the green standard and upgrade features of these homes, we love the pretty amazing price tag too. Starting at $63,995 to $69,995 (depending on location), you'll probably save money on housing costs if you're currently renting, and you'll surely save on month-to-month utilities bills.

We just hope this catches on so people outside Houston can opt for one of these green mini-homes!

(Love the green features, but still skeptical you can live in an 881-square-foot home? KB Home recently committed to making sure all of their new homes are Energy Star qualified—so if you need a little more space, you can still buy green.)

::KB Home
More on Small Living Spaces:
20 Tips for Living in Small Spaces
Livin' Large in 250 Square Feet
Small Houses Getting Big Coverage

Tags: Air Conditioning | Bamboo | Carpets | Energy Efficiency | Energy Star | Green Building | Small Spaces | Texas

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