Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Have a Dream...

What is a Zero Energy House?

"I have noticed that when I tell people that these new houses have energy costs of approximately 50 cents a day, they tend to think about their own homes. People respond to the idea. They just need education and awareness. Jeff Christian, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, buildings technology researcher

Who wouldn't want a house that pays its own energy bills? A zero energy home combines sustainable design with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction including commercially available renewable energy systems such as solar water heating and solar electricity. These homes incorporate such innovations as building-integrated photovoltaic and solar-thermal systems, properly designed heating and cooling equipment, efficient building envelopes, and high-performance appliances.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), these whole-house systems are capable of cutting energy bills by up to 70%, and eventually reaching net zero energy consumption from the utility provider while also helping to eliminate energy shortages and rolling blackouts, and avoiding carbon emissions by sending power to the utility grid. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are supporting the DOE initiative to develop affordable, net-zero-energy housing by 2020 and zero-energy commercial buildings by 2025.

Zero energy homes are connected to the utility grid but can be designed and constructed to produce as much energy as they consume annually, resulting in a nearly zero operative energy costs."

From the Texas State Energy Conservation Office

From The Northwest Arkansas News Source:

"The sustainable details extend far beyond the tire bales. The Stanleys' home, which they figure will be completed sometime this fall, is engineered in such a way that sunlight can be collected and turned into electricity. Large cisterns have been installed to collect rainwater from the roof during storms. That system will filter and provide enough water for showers, dishes, drinking, cooking and more. And when any member of the Stanley family is taking a shower, the drain is routed directly into two large indoor planting areas, where fruit trees and other vegetation will grow.

"When you shower here, you're watering the plants, " Stanley said. "We're making the most of the water. The idea is to reduce waste and conserve energy. It's really just about living better and more responsibly. There are going to be a lot of plants inside because they provide a lot of things you just can't artificially generate. We're not meant to live in environments with forced air everywhere."

A large wall of windows running the length of one side of the house will provide all the sunlight the plants and the rest of the home needs to function. The home has been designed, in many ways, to function like a cave. The interior walls absorb heat during the day, keeping the living space cool. When the sun goes down, that heat is released, keeping the structure warm.

"Originally, there were people who started doing these homes out west because they didn't want a mortgage," Mark Stanley said. "They wanted to save money and build with cash. And they didn't want to be on the grid, paying gas and water and other bills. Think about how the economy is going and all the energy concerns out there. I think there's a lot of added incentive to do something like this today. Imagine a whole community like this. It's not out of the realm of possibility."

Yeah, baby. That's what I'm talking about.

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