Tuesday, July 10, 2007

“Zero-Energy” home plans, in the city or in the sticks

This commentary by Matt Edens at Metro Pulse makes some good points about zero/low energy housing. Building a new house in the suburbs that requires little electricity but still requires the residents to drive everywhere may not be a step in the right direction. Just more evidence that retrofitting existing houses is a real part of the energy solution.

Those estimates aren't just an academic exercise, either. Starting in 2002, ORNL's Building Technology Center teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to build four demonstration homes outside Lenoir City. Built for less than $100,000 each, those homes' daily energy costs averaged out to a mere 82 cents a day compared to the $4-$5 of an average Lenoir City home. They weren't entirely “off the grid,” but at times, their meters more or less ran backwards. Credit for excess electricity contributed back to the power grid trimmed an average of almost $300 off each home's annual utility bill.

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