Enjoying energy savings in an active adult community

An unexpected benefit of Patrick and Laura Gourley’s decision to move into an active adult community was living in an energy-efficient home.

The model home they purchased is Soleil Laurel Canyon’s only EarthCraft-certified home – and one that intrigues their neighbors in the Canton community, which has cottage, traditional and Craftsman-style homes from $200,000 to $400,000s. Their home has energy-efficient appliances, additional insulation and a heat pump instead of a furnace, said their agent, Brenda Laird of Prudential Georgia Realty.

The couple, who moved from a 30-year-home in Acworth with about 1,600 square feet to a new home with more than 2,400 square feet and an unfinished basement in Canton, chatted about their purchase. They’re already experiencing the benefits: The electric bill averaged $100 a month during August, September and October, which is less than they were paying in the smaller home.

Q: How long were you thinking about moving?

Laura: At first we were just looking recreationally for fun, to give ourselves some knowledge about different locations and things they offer at different communities. Soleil was the first place that we visited (in 2007). Then we continued and went to many other places around Georgia. We even visited one in Pennsylvania (near family). Everyone we met loved it here and they said it’s the people.

Patrick: We kept coming back here. We came back when they opened new model plans. Each time we came, we would meet people.

Q: When did you decide to buy?

Patrick: I’m planning to retire next year (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). So our plan was we would start looking this year … basically with the idea that sometime before the end of the year we would find something. We ended up buying a home a little bit sooner we had planned because of the opportunity and low interest rate.

Q: What did you like about this home?

Laura: I had been checking resales (online). Then we came out to look at a house and the salesperson mentioned, “Have you ever seen the Viridian?” It was one of the floor plans Pat and I both really liked because it was so open. It was on an unfinished basement. Then it happened to also be on a very large lot. It was just everything we wanted. Then the sales lady says they’re going to add the furniture and open up for people to stay. We spent the weekend in the house. We knew immediately it was the house. You wake up and the sun is just so bright in this house because the whole back of the house is windows.

Q: What did you know about energy-efficient homes?

Patrick: When we hear energy efficient we’re thinking cost savings in terms of the heating bills, water bills and cooling bills. That was a pretty appealing feature. As we were doing the list of pros and cons, it was definitely on the pro list.

Q: Can you tell a difference?

Patrick: It’s way cheaper than we thought it would be. Most people downsize. We kind of upsized. We got a bigger home, but our heating and air has not gone up. We were kind of afraid of, oh boy, we’re moving to this great big house with a lot more square footage than we had in the other house. What are our bills going to be? But they’ve been so low.

Laura: They selected energy-efficient appliances and then the refrigerator was not included. When I purchased the refrigerator and washer and dryer, I made sure to also get energy-efficient because I wanted to keep with that.

Q: Does the home get attention?

Laura: It’s also painted green. At parties, people say, “Where did you buy?” We said, “We bought the EarthCraft house.” They said, “You’re in the green, green house.’”