A Net-Zero-Energy Home for $180,000 - Fine Homebuilding

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A Net-Zero-Energy Home for $180,000

comments (4) March 12th, 2010 in Blogs
Kevini Kevin Ireton, editor-at-large

This 1,152-sq.-ft. home in Turners Falls, Mass., produced 2-1/2 times more energy than it consumed in its first year of occupancy, earning the owners and builder a $10,000 prize.
An affordable net-zero-energy house honored at the Northeast Sustainable Energy Associations BuildingEnergy10 conference.
This 1,152-sq.-ft. home in Turners Falls, Mass., produced 2-1/2 times more energy than it consumed in its first year of occupancy, earning the owners and builder a $10,000 prize.Click To Enlarge

This 1,152-sq.-ft. home in Turners Falls, Mass., produced 2-1/2 times more energy than it consumed in its first year of occupancy, earning the owners and builder a $10,000 prize.

Photo: www.zeroenergypowerhouse.com

Or maybe that should be $170,000 given that the house in Turners Falls, Mass., just won a $10,000 prize from the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. At this year's BuildingEnergy10 conference in Boston, NESEA presented its Zero Net Energy Award to owners Tina Clarke and Doug Stephens, along with their builder, Bick Corsa.

To be eligible for the award, a house has to be occupied for one year so that energy-use data can be documented. During its first year of occupancy, this year's award winner, which is 1,152 sq. ft., produced two and a half times more energy than it consumed. Yes, I said "two and a half times." I guess we need another term besides "net-zero." "Net-producer," maybe, or "net-positive"? How about "net-smart"? Or maybe just "not-so-stupid."

As he was accepting the award, Bick Corsa described this project as "the simplest house I ever built." It is a slab-on-grade structure, with 12-in.-thick double-stud walls filled with cellulose (R-42). The truss-framed roof has another 30 in. of cellulose (R-100). The windows are triple-glazed units from Thermotech. And when the sun alone isn't enough, the home is heated with a small mini-split, air-source heat pump from Fujitsu. Even without the photovoltaic array, the home's annual utility bill would have been only $400.

I really applaud NESEA for honoring this project. After all, this is not a sexy house. The design couldn't be simpler, which of course has a lot to do with how affordable the house was. More important, though, I applaud Tina, Doug, and Bick for building the thing. This is one example of what we need a lot more of: simple, smart, sustainable, and affordable homes. To learn more about this house go to http://www.zeroenergypowerhouse.com/.


posted in: Blogs

Comments (4)

natgas natgas writes: While I am all for these types of homes, I find it hard to believe statements like:

"Even without the photovoltaic array, the home's annual utility bill would have been only $400."

For eg, I pay that for water each year. Or, just having a meter attached to my house costs me $300 per year without even using any power.

Would love some substantiation of the statement.
Posted: 6:33 pm on January 17th

AndrewInChelseaQC AndrewInChelseaQC writes: Hi Kevin,

You have the wrong URL for Thermotech...

http://www.thermotechfiberglass.com/

Thermotech Fibreglass the window manufacturer and Thermotech Windows the window sales and installation company aren't the same company. They kind of once were... you'll have to ask Stephen Thwaite about that history. It does seem to create some confusion.!

They are indeed very good windows. I have a bunch in my house, alas they aren't all Thermotech's. I wish they were!

Cheers,

Andrew
Posted: 2:31 pm on March 15th

FPR FPR writes: Let me think... something original, but truly reflective. I got it: WoW!

Love to see a special edition on nothing but this higher level of inspirational project. Beats the usual Niemen Marcus type ooooo... and ahhhhh.., definitely prefer the more uncontrollable, WoW! As in what? Or watt?

It's really nice to see your photo and read your words. I am glad you did not disappear. You're the best editor in cheese I even knew. And Brian has remained appropriately humble in stepping into your shoes, although I can already tell he's slowly making the job is own and the magazine will be better for letting the younger men take the helm, and even the oars.

Tough years here on the reader side of the table, really tough.

Would love to hear about your life AFH.

Fernando Pagés
402 610-0589

Posted: 12:03 am on March 15th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: All I can say is: WOW!

As someone struggling to figure out how to afford his first home, what type of home, etc, etc - this information was downright inspiring!


Posted: 1:00 pm on March 12th

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