Zero Energy Home Glows Green When it’s Good for the Planet
So often Prius owners are accused of being pious and smug – just wanting you to know how virtuous they are; by doing the right thing for the planet.
This zero energy home takes that protest-too-much quality one step further: It advertises frankly to the neighbors when it is creating more energy than it is using.
How? Energy efficient (LED of course) lights under the house glow eco-virtuous green when it is producing more than enough energy for its elegantly simple and spartan needs.
But what if the house is not making enough energy for its inhabitants? Well, when when it’s using more energy than it is making, this little house “blushes” an eco-embarrassed red.
Wouldn’t that make your house next door feel just a little piggy? After all, your house always uses more energy than it makes. This house is really setting a whole new standard in devising new ways of keeping up with the Joneses.
But, on the other hand; this has its good side. I’ll bet the neighbors are dropping by to see just why those lights are sometimes green and sometimes red and to find out just how it works this magic! Want to know? Here’s how to build this zero energy house. (Well, zero or better.)
It’s not so hard to make your home an energy producer rather than an energy consumer.
Solar on the roof, geothermal heat exchange in the ground, super insulation in all the walls and low emissivity glass windows.
The south-facing side of the roof is almost half solar panels. The roof hosts an array of panels that are perfectly tilted for this region’s sun.
Ground temperature remains always an even 55 degrees or so, regardless of surface temperatures; whether it is an icy 20 below or whether it’s lemonade weather – 110 in the shade.
So simply passing pipes through the house and down in the ground can cool a summer house and get the warming of a winter house begun. If you are starting with 55 degrees F it is not nearly as as much work to heat a home to 70 degrees F — than if you are starting from 20 below zero!
Geothermal ground heat exchanges are a green option for moving liquids through radiant floors and radiators at the sides of rooms. This zero house in Maine needs no furnace —so it does not use a forced air system; and that is healthier because the air is fresh and cool, but your feet are warm on the radiant floor.
Glass can also be a heat loser, so this home uses low-emissivity glass, that does not let the heat escape in winter, and does not let the summer heat in either.
So the super insulation works both ways: even in the lazy barefoot days of long hot summers, this spartan and minimal house never loses its cool.