and The Dow Chemical Company
joined forces to prove a point that continues to nettle the industry: How do you build an energy-efficient home without sacrificing affordability?
The 3,400-square-foot Bay City, Mich., house—dubbed the “Vision Zero”
home—uses readily available energy efficiency technologies to push the utility bill to zero.
Net-zero energy homes typically use about 60% to 70% less energy than a conventional home, with the balance of its energy needs supplied by renewable technologies. In this house, the team used Dow’s insulation and air-sealing products combined with the company’s Powerhouse Solar Shingles. The solar components on the house will produce enough energy to supply all of the home’s electricity, plus additional energy that can be sold back to the local utility company.
Cobblestone used a wide range of other products and systems to help it achieve the net zero energy goal, such as a geothermal heat pump, solar hot water, LEDs, and ultra-high-efficiency appliances.
“For years, we’ve been a leading advocate for energy-efficient, healthy, environmentally friendly homes in Michigan,” says Mark Wahl, co-owner of Cobblestone. “Our collaboration with Dow to build the Vision Zero home provides us with a unique opportunity to educate consumers and the industry about the attainability of net-zero energy homes. It will serve as a real-world example that net-zero energy is achievable, affordable, and replicable, even in harsh Northern climates.”
According to the builder, the home could be duplicated to net-zero energy for approximately $275,000 (excluding the land). To learn more, take the virtual tour and watch a video that talks about the cost savings.
Getting to Net Zero
- Home Data: 3,400 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 bath
- Estimated Energy Savings: Net annual energy costs: -$275; total annual energy savings: $3,507
- Estimated CO2 Prevented (lbs./year): 44,855
- Cost of energy upgrades over code $78,400
- Payback period 22 years*
- Net savings over 100-year lifespan $210,800**
The energy-efficient upgrades and renewable energy solutions in the home detailed in the list above cost about $78,000 over the cost to construct a home to code in the state of Michigan. While that may sound like a significant investment, the building team estimates the home will save as much as $3,500 in annual energy costs, compared to 1970s construction. A home built to Michigan code would only save $861 of energy each year versus the 1970s baseline, while an energy-efficient home would save approximately $1,754.
Notes: All data has been verified by Building Knowledge Consulting.
*Payback will be reduced as energy costs increase.
**Energy costs and savings based on current energy prices