Last September, a newly-built house in Ogden received state-wide attention. The 2,500-square foot house was a project of the Weber State University, designed and built by its students and faculty. The house is fully insulated and relies on solar power for its energy. The house is priced at $345,000. However, you don’t need that kind of money to get a net-zero energy home.
Cutting Your Electricity Bills to Zero
An 8-kW solar power system can be enough to meet the energy consumption of a family of four. Of course, that assumes you are using electricity efficiently. Proper insulation and energy-saving appliances can cut your electrical consumption by up to 60 percent, allowing your system to produce more electricity than your house consumes during the day. The extra electricity your solar power system produces gets sent to the grid to cover your house’s nighttime energy consumption.
Most power companies will give you credits for the electricity you produce, reducing your bill to zero if your system produces enough electricity. Excess production can also cover winter months or times when sunlight is scarce. Solar power systems are especially effective in elevated places like Utah as sunlight is more intense and concentrated. Generating your own electricity also insulates you from market shifts or policies that might inflate the cost of electricity.
Free Solar Energy?
Solar power systems are surprisingly cheap. 8-kW systems can go for as low as $7,500 and Tesla is rolling out 12-kW systems for $17,000. If your monthly electric bills cost less than $150, then an 8-kW system should be enough. 12-kW systems are designed for large households that spend more than $300 on electricity. A 10-year solar loan or a mortgage loan should cover the cost of your panels.
Premiums for an 8-kW or system should cost you less than $100 a month, while premiums for a 12-kW system would cost less than $200. In either case, the savings on your electricity bill should cover your monthly premiums. Once you’re done with your payments, you still get to enjoy 25-30 years of free electricity, saving you $30,000-$90,000. Solar power systems are not only free (practically); they also quadruple your investment in terms of savings.
From Net Zero to Climate Positive
Your net-zero energy home will produce as much renewable energy as it consumes, making your home carbon-free. However, you can take it to the next level by being climate positive and still save money. By switching to an electric vehicle (EV), you can eliminate the need for fossil fuels. American drivers spend nearly $2,000 on fuel every year. If you charge your EV at home, you’re practically doing it for free and that $2,000 goes to your savings.
Your car won’t be pumping out smoke and particulates, so it won’t be contributing to Utah’s air pollution problem, especially during winter inversions. The newest electric vehicles are outperforming standard cars in speed, acceleration, maneuverability, and ride quality. With EV prices dropping to as low as $25,000, there’s no reason not to switch.
You won’t be just saving the environment with a net-zero energy home; you’ll also be saving a lot of money. Making the changes to your home will require some investment, but you’ll be getting more than your money back in return.