The nation’s leading home builders are rolling out affordable tract homes with solar panels and other features that aim to almost eliminate utility bills, in an effort to gain a competitive edge in the weak housing market. Meritage Homes will sell “net-zero” dwellings in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas beginning on April 22, with nine-panel rooftop solar arrays and a starting price as low as $140,000. Home buyers seeking to reduce utility bills to zero can pay $10,000 for an additional 24 solar panels. Meanwhile, KB Home has made a six-panel rooftop solar array standard in nearly a dozen communities in Southern California, shaving 30 percent off energy costs. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Nate Kredich praises the builders, noting that “shiny granite can only go so far [to lure buyers from low-price foreclosures].” | Read More