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Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF)

The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) is a unique laboratory at the National Institute of Standards (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. A net-zero energy home produces at least as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

Welcome

Both a laboratory and a house, the two-story, four bedrooms, three-bath NZERTF would blend in nicely in a new suburban subdivision. It was designed and built to be approximately 60 percent more energy efficient than homes built to meet the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. During the first year of operation (July 2013 – June 2014) the house exceeded its goal with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for about 1400 miles. Instead of paying almost $4,400 for electricity – the estimated annual bill for a comparable home in Maryland – the virtual family of four residing in the all-electric home actually exported energy to the electric grid. Additional details can be found by reading “NIST Test House Exceeds Goal; Ends Year with Energy to Spare”.

During the second year of testing, the NZERTF quadrupled the amount of excess energy it sent to the grid relative to the first year, 2139 versus 484 kilowatt hours. This significant improvement was a result of Changes in Operational Strategy associated with the heating and ventilation systems and milder weather.

The team is currently conducting research as part of the third phase of operation.  Key experiments being conducted include the following:

  • A comparison of the performance of a small-duct, high-velocity heat pump to one that uses conventional metal ductwork
  • Measurement approaches and data collection for assessing thermal comfort
  • Measurement of hot water distribution effectiveness
  • Measured impact of heat pump water heater on the space conditioning requirements
  • Assessment of the spatial variation in outdoor temperature measurement and its impact on modeling of thermal loads introduced by ventilation system.

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