Centex Homes announced Tuesday that it will include a standard suite of energy efficient features in all of its homes nationwide by January 2009.

Centex targets first-time buyers and has been actively working on a comprehensive redesign of the company's product line. During the process, Centex decided to incorporate an energy efficient package as standard in order to keep costs down and create a unique selling proposition.

"With today's high energy costs, energy efficiency is front and center for home buyers," said Tim Eller, chairman and CEO of Centex. "Monthly energy bills are having a growing impact on the budgets of our home buyers, affecting overall affordability."

The builder commissioned the NAHB Research Center to study homes equipped with features included in the initiative—dubbed Centex Energy Advantage—and the results revealed an improvement in energy efficiency of up to 22% over comparable homes built to the most widely used energy efficiency code, the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

In addition, when compared to the energy efficiency of a typical 10-year-old home as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program, the Centex Energy Advantage homes in the study were shown to be up to 40% more energy efficient

The company expects the initiative to have impressive cumulative effects. For every 10,000 homes Centex builds each year, 17,800 fewer metric tons of carbon could be released than from comparable homes built to 2006 IECC standards. That's equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from 2,957 passenger vehicles in one year, CO2 emissions from 1.83 million gallons of gasoline consumed, or the annual carbon absorption by 3,670 acres of pine or fir forest.

For its most recent fiscal year, the company sold nearly 25,000 homes.

"We designed the Centex Energy Advantage with a focus on two priorities," said Clayton Traylor, head of environmental affairs for Centex. "First, we want to provide our customers with homes that exceed today's energy efficiency standards while maintaining affordability. Second, we want to empower our customers with the tools and information they need to lower their energy use in the future."

Features of the Centex Energy Advantage standard package include: an energy monitor; Whirlpool or KitchenAid brand ENERGY STAR–qualified appliances; Lennox high-efficiency HVAC system; programmable thermostat(s); low-emissivity windows; radiant-barrier roof decking; R-38, R-40, or R-60 attic insulation (varies by climate zone); compact fluorescent lights in high-traffic areas; and information for maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing the impact of home operation on the environment.