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"Green", it's the new buzzword in the housing industry. Once favored by the environmentally conscious, green homes are increasing in popularity, not only because they are better for the planet, but also because of their efficient use of water, energy and building materials. Simply put, they save you money.

It's exactly why Bryson Garbett started building energy efficient homes two decades after he founded Garbett Homes in 1983. He wanted to create contemporary homes that cost his customers less to operate and maintain, and he wanted to do it all while protecting the environment.

"We started offering these homes during the [economic] downturn, because people stopped buying new homes, even though rates were low, Garbett said. "So we wanted to give them a reason to buy a new home, something that they couldn't get in an existing one, and it is that while a home built to code typically saves you nothing, our homes are so energy efficient, they save you 60% on your energy bills," he said.

How do they do it? The key word is "tight". Good framing and insulation ensure that heat has a hard time finding its way in during summer, and escaping during winter. Garbett Homes replace many of the low-insulation 2x4 wood strips used to frame conventional homes with special foam that provides extra insulation and eliminates air gaps.

"In an energy efficient home thicker is better, and our walls and ceilings are definitely thicker", Garbett said.

But he doesn't just ask customers to take his word for it. Garbett proves just how efficient his homes are by using an infrared heat-sensing camera. Photos show areas where heat is escaping. While conventional homes generally show up red, Garbett Homes are dark, an indication that little or no heat is detected.

Their pioneering efforts also caused them to look upwards, making them among the first in the country to utilize solar technology, harnessing the sun's energy to power homes and heat water instead of relying solely on gas.

The end result of combining all of these energy saving techniques is that Garbett Homes produce as much energy as, and sometimes even more energy than they use. It's exactly this concept - of living in a net-zero home – that persuaded the Strongs to purchase a Garbett Home in November 2013.

"It took a unique blend of energy efficiency and modern architecture to tempt us to move from our wonderful East Bench location to Herriman; but we haven't had a moments regret," Miyo Strong said. "Our home has a 10 kilowatt capable solar panel system that has helped greatly reduce our energy costs along with all of the detailed energy conscious building techniques, materials and insulation Garbett used," she said. "The design and layout of the home is open, modern and fresh. We love the airy and light flow of the living space."

So how much will it cost you to own a money-saving home?

"Some of the things we do increase the cost of the homes a little bit and we are very sensitive to that because we keep it down to no more than $5,000 above the cost of an average home of the same size," Garbett said. "So I think our unique contribution to the homebuilding industry is that we're able offer so much at such an affordable price."

Ranging from $170,000 to $500,000, a typical Garbett net-zero home will save owners on average $4,000 a year, depending on the size ($120,000 in 30 years), which means you'll recoup that extra $5,0000 in just months, and be on your way to earning your energy savings.

But saving money and protecting the environment aren't the only feel good factors of shopping with Garbett Homes. There's also a charitable element.

"We're starting a new 64-home community in the Herriman Town Center where profits from 29 of those homes will be donated toward building a junior high school in a very vulnerable and forgotten community in Mexico," Garbett said. "So if you were to buy a home there, you would be playing a part in making that happen."

In addition to the community at Herriman, Garbett homes with spectacular views and amenities are also available for purchase at Little Cottonwood Canyon, South and West Jordan, Layton and Cedar's Hill.

As part of their commitment to customers, the Garbett team will assist in finding lenders who offer the best rates, and will pay up to $3,000 to assist with closing fees if customers partner with their preferred lender.

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