Shea Homes partners with Sunrun

Shea Homes partners with SunrunShea Homes has partnered with Sunrun to offer more affordable solar installations on houses in half of its Phoenix neighborhoods.

Shea Homes prides itself on building energy efficient homes that keep utilities bills low for customers, said Ken Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing for the Phoenix division of Shea Homes.

“We have offered solar in a lot of our communities for several years,” Peterson said. “But it has always been traditional systems that people have to buy upfront.”

The Sunrun partnership allows homebuyers to lease solar panels, which reduces the upfront cost and makes solar an easier investment.

“It also give them peace of mind,” Peterson said. “If there’s trouble with an inverter or anything at all goes wrong with the system, it’s Sunrun’s job to maintain it.”

That fits well with Shea’s customer service model, Peterson said.

The company is known for standing behind its product.

“We’re not a low-cost builder,” Peterson said. “But we have high quality and offer energy efficiency that adds value.”

The builder participates with Environments For Living. The program holds the builder to slightly higher standards than Energy Star and insures a higher level of energy efficiency.

Through that program, Shea tests its homes and is able to offer a guaranteed utility cost for the first two years a family lives in the home.

If the guaranteed average monthly utility expense is $72 and the average comes back higher than that, the homeowner will get a refund check for the difference and EFL will evaluate the home and identify areas where Shea can make efficiency improvements free of charge to the homeowner.

The Sunrun partnership is just Shea’s most recent commitment to solar in the Phoenix area. Peterson said Shea Homes has one neighborhood that is 100 percent solar and has considered building a neighborhood that will include solar automatically on all of the houses it builds. It currently offers some type of solar installation in all 10 of its communities, though the Sunrun option is only available in five of them.

Some of the neighborhoods will close out before the end of the year and Shea Homes plans to begin building in new six new neighborhoods in the first and second quarters of 2013.

Peterson said Shea sells homes that range in price from $135,000 to more than $700,000.