PHOTO TOUR: Eco-friendly house boasts $40/mo. utilities - KMSP-TV

PHOTO TOUR: Eco-friendly house boasts $40/mo. utilities

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

When Parade of Home visitors walk into the newly-built home at 1017 Oak Bluff Circle in St. Paul, the normal "new home smell" is absent -- but that's because the materials are a bit different.

The home's health-centered and environmentally-conscious elements include pollutant-free carpet made from corn fibers, no-VOC paint, low-VOC stains and varnishes and continuous ventilation.

For some home shoppers, the green focus isn't enough of a sell -- but what about low gas and electric bills? Ray Pruban, from Amaris Custom Homes, estimates the home's gas and electric bills will total about $40 per month.

The same utility bills can cost $250 per month in a typical 3.600-square foot home. With LED lighting throughout the house, solar panels and energy-efficient appliances, the costs are kept down.

Passive solar methods will are also incorporated. A concrete-based porcelain tile floor along the southern side allows the sun to heat the floor during the day and release warmth at night.

The 5-bedroom, walk-out rambler is priced at $699,000. The costs to make the home green take up between 3 to 5 percent of the total, about $28,000. If the $200 a month energy savings hold true, it will take about 11 years to recoup the green building costs.

Hidden away in the cozy design are modern technologies that allow a homeowner to program heat, lights, and more from their smartphones. The lawn also has a smart sprinkler system that reads the weather forecast and will sit idle before or during rain storms.

The house also features a built-in book case that swings open like a door. Inside the wall, there is a hidden compartment for the possible storage of valuables, such as guns, lockboxes or family heirlooms.

On Thursday, the house will be officially named a U.S Department of Energy "Challenge Home." It can be toured (#307) during the Parade of Homes, which runs on weekends through Sept. 29.

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