As of late, more homebuilders have been offering solar systems as an upgrade to homebuyers looking for an energy-efficient home. Now, in celebration of Earth Month, one homebuilder is including solar at no additional cost with the purchase of a to-be-built home in select communities.

Meritage Homes, www.meritagehomes.com, Scottsdale, Ariz., recently announced it is including a solar-power system from SunPower Corp., www.sunpower.com, San Jose, Calif., for no additional cost in select Meritage California communities. This special offer only runs through Earth Month and will expire on April 30.

The two organizations have launched a nationwide effort to provide energy efficiency and solar-power solutions to all Meritage homebuyers throughout the United States.

Solar enables buyers to potentially reach zero net energy consumption in homes. While the offer will include a 1.4-kilowatt SunPower solar-power system, homebuyers can choose to upgrade the size of the system at an additional cost. This may also include online monitoring of the solar system, which allows homeowners to understand how much power the solar system is generating. With access to realtime data about the solar system, homeowners are able to better control energy use.

SunPower is also going to work with Meritage Homes sales personnel and homebuyers to provide training and education on the benefits of the solar-power systems.

While this is just one example, a number of homebuilders are beginning to offer solar systems in new construction projects. The use of solar not only saves money long term for the homebuyers, as it saves on energy consumption, but online monitoring also enables buyers to make smart decisions and to better control energy use.