RALEIGH–The 2012 Wake County Parade of Homes had more than 200 new homes on display. The houses will be judged and awarded based on their design and features.

In this year’s competition, a handful of the homes entered had something different than all the rest, they’re “ecoHOME” qualified.

A Raleigh-based energy company started the program and builders are on board with the initiative.

Michelle Simms is co-owner of Terramor Homes, which has entered six unique homes into the 2012 Parade of Homes.

Terramor is partnering with Southern Energy Management to ensure each one is a certified ecoHOME.

It’s a new program designed to help builders maximize a home’s comfort and energy efficiency, without meeting too many unnecessary requirements.

“The average estimate energy costs of $152 bucks a month for a 3,500 square foot house,”said Southern Energy expert Michael Peaden.

Peaden also pointed out important features to look out for in a home, including high performance windows, high efficiency HVAC, programmable thermostats and low flow water fixtures.

“It falls into the energy efficiency categories of ecoHOME requirements, but looks the same as any other faucet you would find right now,” said Simms.

By making a new house better for the environment, a resident can also make it easier on their wallet

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