Antonio and Christie Miller of Nashville can smile when they talk about their utility bills. So can Casey Greer, according to USA Today.
That's because they're residents of new Habitat for Humanity homes that were built to meet top energy-efficiency standards.
Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that built 4,800 homes in the United States and Canada last year, has undertaken a national effort to build low-energy homes that are both affordable and green. Habitat homeowners say it's paying off.
"Oh, my gosh, my utility bills are awesome," Greer said.
"This summer when it was extremely warm, I think the highest bill was 80 bucks. In my old place, the cheapest bill was almost $200."
Going green earned the Nashville, Denver and Goshen, Ind., Habitat programs the Environmental Protection Agency's 2011 Energy Star Sustained Excellence award for dedication to reducing greenhouse emissions through energy efficiency.
Matt Clark, Habitat for Humanity's national director of construction technology, says that the non-profit has about 1,550 affiliates nationwide. Each is asked to build homes that meet Energy Star's requirements for energy efficiency, though specifics about how houses are built are left to the local groups.
The idea behind the program, Clark says, is simple: Habitat builds homes for low-income families. More-energy-efficient homes mean lower monthly bills.
"Proportionately, that segment of the population pays more of their income toward utility bills," Clark said. "If we can cut those bills down, we can really help them."
Read more about energy efficient heating and cooling.