An Energy Producing Home In Disguise

The Energy Producing Home

Who says that a home with cutting-edge energy efficiency has to look like an ultra-modern pod? This recently completed Wisconsin home packs so much energy tech that it makes money by selling electricity back to the grid, and it still keeps a low neighborhood profile.

Neumann Developments, the creators of the home, state the following as the goal of the project:

“Constructing an economically viable mainstream home that will produce more energy than it consumes – allowing for a dramatic reduction in greenhouse emissions and dependency on foreign oil.”

Tracking Solar Array (photo:  Neumann Developments)
Tracking Solar Array (photo: Neumann Developments)

Two solar arrays are the heart of the property’s electricity generation. A Wattsun solar tracking array in the back yard provides 4,600 kWh of electricity annually, which is dedicated to charging an electric vehicle. Another rooftop photovoltaic setup provides 14,700 kWh yearly, which is much more than the home requires. Surplus power is sold back to the municipal grid for a substantial profit – in July, the home made $408.16 from the local energy utility.

Further energy efficiency comes from the geothermal heating/cooling system in the basement. Glycol fluid circulates through tubing buried below the foundation where the temperature is a year-round 54 degrees. The heat-exchange system provides all necessary summertime cooling, and eases heat production in the winter.

Geothermal Heat Exchange Unit (photo:  Neumann Developments)
Geothermal Heat Exchange Unit (photo: Neumann Developments)

Energy Star appliances and top-notch insulation round out the home’s energy efficiency. And although the specialized solar and geothermal gear did add a substantial amount to construction expenses, the cost of the upgrades was cut in half by rebates and tax credits.

For more information, visit the Neumann Developments website.

(via Dvice)

12 thoughts on “An Energy Producing Home In Disguise”

  1. Would be interested to know the sized systems they are using for both solar arrays. Wisconsin has pretty good sun hours and with the addition of Geothermal the home is probably doing pretty well, but I would love further clarification.

  2. There’s no way a house that produces 52 kWh/day is remotely cost efficient.

    I built an off-grid home which produces between 5 and 15 kWh/day with a 1.5 kW solar array and 1 kW wind turbine. My energy budget is 6 kWh/day unless it’s a productive day in which case we can get a little wasteful. The architectural style of my 3200 sqft home is a hybrid of gothic and neoclassical, which is like the polar opposite of typical modern-looking off-grid homes. The passive solar and thermal mass didn’t really cost much more than a typical home, though the spray-foam insulation was significantly more costly and the active power generation components totaled around $75k including panels, turbine, evacuated tubes, batteries, inverter, pumps, breakers, etc., and related infrastructure.

    To generate 52 kWh/day reliably, you would need at least a 10 kW nominal array, bare minimum (20 kW more likely). Just for the panels, that would cost in the neighborhood of $50k to $100k, not including mounting, tracking system, wiring, grid-tie inverter, breakers, and everything related to that geothermal system and solar thermal. On the website, they claim the cost in excess of a typical home of the same size was about $150,000 before rebates, or about 50% more expensive.

    Also, just from looking at that photo, I know that little effort was expended in architectural energy considerations. A ranch is much less efficient than a two-story of the same floor area. In a two-level home, you require half as much roof and floor area to insulate and have more south-facing window area to collect passive solar heat. Also, if they have passive solar and solar thermal and are well-insulated, then I don’t know what the purpose of the geothermal system is.

    I would have reservations about this house performing as advertised.

  3. i love this stuff — im putting together a blog with some of my favorite news and whatever i can find…its going to be centralized around this whole idea of home self sufficience

    check it out and leave your thoughts!

  4. In response to Marley-
    The Dvice article about the house (see link at the end of the post above) features more photos of the completed home, including the rooftop PV setup. There is also a video tour of the home.

  5. A quick look at the website for the “EP Home” shows not a single shot of the rooftop PV?… that is either a HUGE oversight or evidence that this house is a total sham. The rendering is not at all convincing. The specifications are weak and misleading. The developer appears to be speculative as best. Is this house even finished yet?

    A little dose of healthy skepticism.

    Note to Neumann Developments: post proof or you will soon learn that there IS such a thing as bad-press.

  6. I’d love to build house like this. The demand for something like this in Nebraska just isn’t there. I built sips house 10 years ago and it is very energy
    efficient and it could easily be upgraded to produce more energy than it consumes. Thanks for email

  7. I love that for once metaefficient is showing us an evolutionary example of efficiency. Seriously, this kind of energy saving technology adds practically nothing to the cost of any new suburban construction today.

  8. Awesome! How affordable is it to build a home like this? What is the square footage? Please share more info. on this one and any other ones like it.

    One day, I’d like to buy one.


    Steve Behrens, Royal Palm Beach, Fl.

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