Solar a Key Component of Habitat for Humanity Home

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver dedicated the ultimate energy efficient demonstration home: a house designed to produce as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis.

The Net Zero Energy Habitat for Humanity House, at 4700 Carr Street in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, combines energy efficient building design that reduces energy consumption with solar heat and power generation technologies that supply the home’s remaining energy needs. The project was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and served partly to help kickoff Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman’s tour “Energizing America for Energy Security” last June 13 when the construction first began. As part of DOE’ s Building America Program, NREL researchers designed the house using the latest research tools. The house features super-insulated walls, floors, and ceilings; efficient appliances; a solar water heating system; heat-recovery ventilation system to assure indoor air quality; compact fluorescent lighting; and windows coated with thin layers of metallic oxide to help keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer. The home’s 4-kW photovoltaic system is sized to produce excess energy in the summer to balance out winter consumption. “Together, we created a home that is not only comfortable and affordable, but uses less than half of the energy of a standard home while producing energy through renewable energy systems,” said NREL Director Dan E. Arvizu. Arvizu presented house keys to homeowner Amy Whalen and her sons Orlando, 6, and Angelo, 4, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Whalen expects to benefit from reduced electricity bills. NREL researchers will monitor the performance of the home for one year. This monitoring will be used to determine if the energy features of the home perform as expected and investigate potential improvements on the approach used to achieve zero energy.
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