Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes

 
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:38 AM   #1
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Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/de...ost-homes.html

Demand spikes for zero-energy-cost homes
By Paul Hagey, Inman News

March 2, 2012 Provided by: tweet215SendPrintShare this page
FacebookTwitterMyspaceDeliciousDiggStumbleUponA rising trend of super-efficient, solar-powered new homes allows homeowners to combat rising energy costs by giving back to the power grid. Some owners are even realizing a small profit from their home's power-generating capacity.

Intelligent house layout and design, and home features such as dual-pane windows, air-tight duct work and high-caliber wall and attic insulation are curbing energy consumption. And when coupled with solar energy, captured through photovoltaic panels, these homes are becoming their own mini power plants that feed electricity to the grid.

In 2009, U.S. homeowners paid an average $2,200 for energy use in their homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A growing number of homeowners have the opportunity to zero-out that cost.

See: Green Homes That Give Back to the Grid

"It's too good to believe," said Dave Spencer of his net-zero-energy home in Gainesville, Fla. Last month, his energy bill was $2.01 -- and that was just because of service fees -- after receiving over $10 in credit for energy his home generated. Both semiretired, Spencer and his wife, Sandy, moved into the 1,752-square-foot home last October and have not paid for any energy yet, he said.

Sounds too good to be true?


Gainesville, FL builder Tommy Williams Homes tout 'net-zero' energy cost units.
Photo: Tommy Williams Homes


A recent Yahoo! Real Estate study found that 50 percent of 1,545 U.S. adults polled said being green is a requirement of their dream home.

The Spencer's new home is part of a niche, though growing, segment of the U.S. housing market -- net-zero-energy homes, many of which use solar energy to achieve net-zero-energy use vs. consumption. In the sun-sparse days of winter, energy consumption often exceeds generation, but in the sunny days of summer, energy generation often far exceeds consumption.

As of February 2012, 37 homes have been rated net-zero-energy or better on the industry-standard Home Energy Rating System e-scale of the U.S.-standard auditor. This number could grow 1,000 percent or more in 2012 if projects continue as planned.


Kitchen view of a model for the net-zero-energy SheaXero home.
Photo: Shea Homes


"Interest has been off the charts," said Todd Louis, vice-president of Tommy Williams Homes, the Florida-based building company that built the Spencers' home. So far, the company has built and sold four, and has plans to build 35 to 40 more in 2012. The price of their net-zero-energy homes are still $30,000 to $40,000 higher than those that are not net-zero-energy, said Williams, but that margin is dropping with a decline in photovoltaic costs. The Spencers paid $250,000 for their home.

Shea Homes, a large builder in the West, announced last month that it plans to make net-zero energy or near-net-zero energy homes the standard model for new homes in all 10 of its retirement communities in Nevada, Florida, Washington, California and Arizona.

If interest in the communities mirrors last year's level, that could mean 500 to 600 solar-paneled, high-efficiency homes, 80 percent of which will be net-zero energy, said a Shea Homes spokesperson. (To achieve net-zero-energy, solar-power-enhanced homes have to be on lots that allow a certain amount of sun exposure.)

Don Asay bought one of the new Shea Homes, which feature blown-in cellulose wall insulation, dual-pane windows, a 20-amp outlet for an electric car in the garage, and solar panels, when he heard about the solar deal. He was already looking at a house in a Las Vegas-area 55-plus community built by Shea Homes.


High-caliber insulation, like attic-coating foam, are among
the technologies that make homes energy efficient.
Photo: Ryan J. Stanton

Shea Homes has long featured extremely energy-efficient designs, though the upgrade to solar panels could be costly -- around $30,000, said Asay. He and his wife were considering the upgrade, but when the announcement was made that the new net-zero homes, with solar, were only $7,000 more than the previous base model, they jumped: "Sign us up."

Nexus EnergyHomes, in the Northeast, has already built hundreds of single-family net-zero homes in Philadelphia's museum district, in South Carolina and Maryland, and has plans for hundreds more, including a net-zero energy exclusive, 59-home subdivision in Frederick, Md.

The market is listening.

Residential green construction has skyrocketed from 2 percent of new homes in 2005 to 17 percent of new homes in 2011, according to a McGraw Hill Market survey report. The same report found that 61 percent of customers are willing to pay more for homes that are energy-efficient and have other green features.

"The paradigm of construction is changing," said Phil Fairey, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, an important partner in the recent growth of the net-zero energy home movement. "Now, greater efficiency doesn't cost you more," he said.

And the cost of solar energy, he added, has dropped 50 percent over the last two to three years -- from about $8 per watt to $4 per watt.

"It's not a huge trend yet," said green homebuilding consultant Carl Seville, "but it's growing slow and steady." Right now, there are pockets of demand like Austin, Texas and the West Coast, he said, but the movement is slowly spreading.

It's not so much that homes are generating so much more energy with photovoltaics, said Seville, but rather that builders are becoming more savvy about home design and energy efficiency.

A well-designed, well-built home without energy generation can get pretty close to net-zero energy efficiency, he said, and energy generation takes it over the top.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:31 AM   #2
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


If i were to build a new home right now i would not be going with solar electric for any kind of savings. For starters the requirements for windows and insulation are already quite strict and most new homes are about as efficient as they going to get. Second the POCO has already come up with a solution to having to refund the customer for any power fed back to the grid. The POCO here has dropped what they charge per KW and now charges delivery fee's among other charges such as maintenance to get their money back. So the solar system will be wore out and outdated before it even begins to show any real savings, and of course here in good ole NY, you do not get squat for rebates or tax incentives. IMO you are better off updating lights and appliances and look into alternative savings elsewhere.

For this area what i see and feel in the wallet is the cost of heating any size home these days. The heat bill far exceeds the electric bill. I am now looking into solar heat units for hot water that can be stored and pumped through my current heat exchanger for my force hot air furnace. The current wood boiler i have is getting to be too much work for my mother to operate, too much work for me to get the wood anymore and due to the size of the home there is no way to go back to oil/gas. Going this route i can heat the home for free and if the panels do not keep up with the homes demand than the wood boiler could be fired to reheat the storage tank. A friend of mine installed a system like this last yr and i have been watching it work. So far it has been a learning curve for him and i already see things i would do differently. But, the system does work well and when it gets to hot the system dumps into the driveway to cool off and the owners keeps his driveway clear for free too.

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Old 03-06-2012, 09:43 AM   #3
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


Quote:
If i were to build a new home right now i would not be going with solar electric for any kind of savings. For starters the requirements for windows and insulation are already quite strict and most new homes are about as efficient as they going to get. Second the POCO has already come up with a solution to having to refund the customer for any power fed back to the grid. The POCO here has dropped what they charge per KW and now charges delivery fee's among other charges such as maintenance to get their money back. So the solar system will be wore out and outdated before it even begins to show any real savings, and of course here in good ole NY, you do not get squat for rebates or tax incentives. IMO you are better off updating lights and appliances and look into alternative savings elsewhere.
If only you lived in ON, here we buy electricity for about 8 cents a kwh, if you put in solar panels you sign a 20 year contract at 80 cents a kwh! You "sell" every watt you generate an "buy" every watt you consume. I have a number of clients with these systems in place and they see about 25% return on investment per year with a cost of about 50-75K..pretty darn good.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:26 AM   #4
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


If the POCO were more honest i would certainly entertain the solar panel. About the only better option for electrical savings here is just to off grid completely and then IMO you would have to have good water flow and build a hydro unit.

To build a hydro unit for free constant power and use solar to heat the home with, now that would be great . That would be an easy $4-$6k a yr savings depending on weather.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:13 PM   #5
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


I saw the article on yahoo, and a little under it was an article about the all the "green' companys that Obama threw money at that paid out bonuses then went belly up. I just looked and dont see it now, go figure.

Living cheap monthly is great , but alot of the crap they sell you on is just that and the upfront cost and maintnence often overshadows savings on it.

My average electric bill at the house is $34 , $15 of that is serivce fee and taxes of which they wont allow credits on so any reverse metering stops at $19 a month basicly. Not worth cleaning PV panels every week let alone the costs.

Wanna save money, insulate and reflect in the warm climates and insulate and go flat black passive solar in cold areas , youd be amazed how much heat this simple thing will produce even at 0 degrees outside
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects...ce_Heating.htm
I've built several using old sliding glass doors, some 2x4s. some used aluminum screens and flat black high temp paint. they'll put out 140+ degree air using no power and can heat a room up real nice during the day no matter the temp as long as the sun is shining
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:18 PM   #6
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


We have a builder that has teamed up with DOW and they built a solar paneled house with new stuff the invented. Big write up in the paper, how this is the new thing. Only they didn't write about all the energy credits and the extra costs to build it. Only green people with cash will buy one. everybody else is to cheap.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:19 PM   #7
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Adobe View Post
I saw the article on yahoo, and a little under it was an article about the all the "green' companys that Obama threw money at that paid out bonuses then went belly up. I just looked and dont see it now, go figure.

Living cheap monthly is great , but alot of the crap they sell you on is just that and the upfront cost and maintnence often overshadows savings on it.

My average electric bill at the house is $34 , $15 of that is serivce fee and taxes of which they wont allow credits on so any reverse metering stops at $19 a month basicly. Not worth cleaning PV panels every week let alone the costs.

Wanna save money, insulate and reflect in the warm climates and insulate and go flat black passive solar in cold areas , youd be amazed how much heat this simple thing will produce even at 0 degrees outside
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects...ce_Heating.htm
I've built several using old sliding glass doors, some 2x4s. some used aluminum screens and flat black high temp paint. they'll put out 140+ degree air using no power and can heat a room up real nice during the day no matter the temp as long as the sun is shining
One company that went belly up west of me, built a brand new plant, and never opened the doors. lots of local tax money went into that.
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:36 AM   #8
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


Quote:
Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the demand spike must be pretty darn minimall. Seeing how we are already in the midst of a terrible housing recession, that demand for even more expensive niche custom energy homes is pretty dam small..IE: currently-basically a non factor.. An indication of a possible future trend? Sure, if the tech becomes cheap enough, why wouldn't it....
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:23 AM   #9
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Re: Demand Spikes For Zero-energy-cost Homes


Thanks for posting the article Amelia.

Super insulated homes are the future, no doubt. I read an article/study that builders (in Europe) were finding that the additional cost was less than they had expected, on the order of 10-15% more than traditional methods. The payback was happening fairly quick (7-15 years).

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