Solar Villagers Would Only Pay $300 a Year for Energy – in Masachusetts!
Rural Development Inc worked closely with engineers at Steven Winter Associates and architects at Austin Design to plan the community that won an award this year at Zero Energy Challenge.
The Wisdom Way Solar Village homesÂ show just what can be done: you can have a $300 a year energy bill, even in Massachusetts. The solar equipped Zero Energy homes will be certified through the EnergyStar Homes program and DOE Builderâ€™s Challenge.
Most of the homes in the Wisdom Way Solar Village development are being sold to low-income buyers. A smaller percentage of units are being designated for moderate-income buyers, while two will be sold on the open market.
The reason that Swedish houses use wood floors is that they are easy to keep clean in snowy climates. Wet soaked carpets harbor pathogens and rot the underflooring. So Wisdom Way used locally-harvested, Forest Stewardship Council certified wood flooring. Because it is locally harvested, it used few carbon miles.
Solar electric panels and solar thermal collectors on the roof provide electricity and domestic hot water. Other energy saving features include high-efficiency water fixtures and toilets, instantaneous water heaters, programmable thermostats, and mechanical ventilation and distribution. These homes are up to 92% more energy efficient than homes that meet the most recent building codes in the region.
Even now, and even in Massachusetts, solar is cost-effective compared with paying for utility energy. Since you are going to pay for electricity anyway, it is foolish to worry about “payback” for solar. Your other option: utility electricity never achieves payback. There is no date by which you will have paid off your utility electric supply: you will pay for electricity every month till you are dead.
Solar Village homeowners would pay only about $300 a year for energy in a region where energy can cost ten times that.
â€œThese Platinum homes resulted from a talented project team that included multiple energy specialists, superior craftsmen, and a developer with an incredible vision for the future of affordable housingâ€ said Maureen Mahle, LEED for Homes Program Manager at Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
The focus was heavily on reducing energy use. Each unit has a very tight, super well insulated envelope: an incredible R-42 (using blown cellulose). On the Southern exposure; units have high-solar gain insulated windows and triple-glazed, low-e windows elsewhere, and each unit has high efficiency lighting, and all that is needed for heat after all those thermal efficiency measures is a tiny, sealed-combustion heater.