Video Transcript: Energy to Spare: NIST Completes Successful Net-Zero Energy House Experiment (back to news release)
A year ago we had set out to prove that we had built a home that could achieve net zero, that is, it could produce as much energy as it consumes while meeting all the needs and creature comforts of a typical family of four.
This is a beautiful modern home located in suburban Maryland. But not only is it a home, but it's a laboratory, it's a living laboratory and it's located on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where it will serve as a testbed for energy researchers for decades to come.
We have this virtual family of four people that live in the home. And this virtual family does everything exactly the way an average American family would during the course of a year. They take showers, they use the tv, they play video games, they charge their computers. They make no sacrifices in their living style, while doing that, still having a zero energy bill for the year. In fact, we actually have a surplus of energy at the end of the year.
The thing that's really exciting about this house is that an average home in suburban Maryland, in this climate, with all the amenities and the size of this house, would consume on average about $350 worth of electricity per month, in an all-electric home, or over the course of the year $4,200.
This year was especially challenging, it was much colder than normal. We actually had snowfall for 38 days of the year. The collectors on the roof of the house were covered with either ice or snow, not producing any electricity. So in spite of that, these severe weather conditions, we were still able to achieve net zero.
The enclosure of the home is extremely well insulated, it's also built incredibly tight so that we don't have unwanted air leakage into the house. So we have a nice thermal envelope or enclosure that takes much less energy to heat or cool than a conventional home.
At this point of the project what we have done is we have demonstrated net zero, that it is possible to build a home such as this and have a zero energy bill for the year.
Now we're going to turn it into a testbed to evaluate energy efficient technologies, and more importantly perhaps develop test methods and performance metrics that will demonstrate to people how energy efficient different technologies are.
This will allow the average consumer to have a solid footing on which to make informed buying decisions of energy efficient technologies and it will move them towards homes that use less energy, or the ultimate goal to use no energy.