Walk up to this house, and you might think it was just like all the others on the street. But take a peek in the backyard and basement, and you'll see that it's bristling with high technology. The $350,000 house, located between Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, creates so much electricity that its owner receives a check from the power company each month.
Watch the video for a free tour, then follow the link below for the full story.
When the Newman Company set out to design this house, the goal was to create enough electricity to provide power to the house, to charge a Chevy Volt electric car, and then create enough excess power so that it could be sold back to the power company. The house, which was sold last month, accomplishes that goal to such an extent that the company is now guaranteeing for five years that the owner of this house — and more than its currently constructing — won't pay any energy bills at all.
It's done using $150,000 worth of solar gear, geothermal energy and insulation, and even better news is that with federal and state rebates and tax credits, the net cost of all this energy producing gear is less than half that, $74,130.
There are two solar electric systems powering the house — a Wattsun tracker system in the backyard that supplies 4,600 kWh of electricity per year, dedicated to charging up a Chevy Volt. On the roof is a much larger array, supplying 14,700 kWh per year, enough to run the entire house with plenty left over to sell back to the power company.
A geothermal loop field, consisting of pipes buried 8 to 9 feet under the ground and carrying a glycol-based liquid, are hooked up to a heat pump that supplies all the heating and cooling for the house. With this system there's no need for an external air conditioning unit. Because the Earth at that 8-9-foot depth is a constant 54° year-round, heat can be extracted from that glycol liquid on cold days or added to it on hot days.
Supporting all this energy conservation are Energy Star-certified appliances throughout the house, a sealed wood-burning fireplace, enough insulation to seal up the house up like an FedEx envelope, and a temperature-exchanging ventilation system that brings fresh air into the house without sacrificing any heating or cooling.
Walking around this deceptively futuristic house, it was apparent that no sacrifices were made for the sake of energy savings. Another amazing aspect of it this seemingly ordinary house is its low cost. The Newman Company did extensive research to identify the most cost-effective building methods for such a project, and decided that techniques such as exotic walls made of concrete, passive solar construction, and wind power didn't provide as big a payoff as the technology they ultimately decided to use.
Overall, the cost of homeownership using this technology, including the price of fuel for one vehicle, will pay for itself. In the meantime, no fossil fuels will be used whatsoever. Take a look at the gallery above for some specifics.