MARY BIGELOW, in the post that follows, offers the promise of positive possibilities...much needed today when energy efficiency is a priority and on the minds of many people who are looking for ways to remedy potentially far-reaching and disastrous effects ...over which they have no control...
Imagine a house…with all the modern conveniences…
computers, coffee pots, heat, computers, indoor cook stoves…even IOL (instant on lighting! I think that came from a Dudley Moore movie!) Did I say computers?
Just think of all those things we have become so fond of…modern comforts…
Now imagine that same house after a year… compute the utility bills…and they average zero…
Wouldn’t that be the cat’s meow?
I have just described a net zero energy home. Some times it uses energy, sometimes it produces more energy than it uses. However, after a year the energy bills net out to zero…
Yes, you heard me right, ZERO. Zip. Nada. Zilch…
You are probably saying,
"Sounds great but it would cost a small fortune!"
Am I right?
What if I told you it doesn't have to cost a fortune? You would probably ask me to prove it…
My friend Chris Hall, Construction Director at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County tells me they are going to prove net zero energy is achieveable...on a budget. Chris and the other folks at KCHFH are going to prove it on a Habitat for Humanity Home!
They are out there!
What could be better? Habitat for Humanity clients are among those who need it the most. Habitat for Humanity clients are hard working folks with lower income. Utility bills take a good chunk of their income...
What do your utility bills cost you per month? $50? $100? $200?
What would happen if you spent those dollars locally as opposed to sending it to your utility provider? Did you know that dollars spent locally add up to 6 times as much income for local economy?
A few weeks ago I was doing some calculations for a presentation. I was astounded...Michigan has about 4.5 million homes. If each of those homes were to reduce their electric consumption by 2000 kWh per year ~ just 167 kWh per month ~ it would make available almost a billion dollars annually at today's electricity prices. If that were spent locally, it could equate to 5 - 6 Billion dollars to the local economies...wow...
just...WOW! That's a chunk of change!
What if you were able to invest those dollars? I'm aware the market's have been down so let's assume a 5% investment rate. That $100 per month invested over 30 years would be over $83,000...not a bad retirement supplement for most people. Just from avoided cost of electricity...at today's dollars and rates.
So what does it take to build a net zero energy home? Fantastic donors.
Donors like Grand Rapids resident Craig Van Ess who competed in his 12th Ironman competition on Sunday, June 27th to raise funds on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.
Volunteers who offer insight at design charrettes, answer phones, schedule, pound nails and simply enjoy helping others by offering their time and talents.
Suppliers like Kohler who donate water saving faucets and showerheads to HFHKC.
If you are interested in learning more about Kent County Habitat for Humanity's Net Zero Energy Home, read about the Wealthy Heights Project now under way in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
If you are interested in donating time, talent or products to the first Habitat for Humanity Home in the US that will be net zero energy, check in with Kent County Habitat for Humanity and let them know!
I will bring more news about this exciting project as it develops...the Wealthy Heights Project is setting a great example. The proof is in the pudding....
As Chris says, "Simple. Decent. Affordable. And Historic. And LEED Certified. Did we miss anything?"
Copyright 2009 Mary McGraw Bigelow. All rights reserved.
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