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Zero Energy House reinvents resource efficiency

Electricity costs drop 50% with photovoltaic cells, ultimately qualifying buyers for larger loan

(Part 1 of a two-part series on zero-energy houses) Most people categorize houses by style, as in Victorian or Spanish, or by floor plan, as in ranch or center hall. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy want you to categorize houses by attribute, as in energy-hog or energy-efficient. The energy-hog house is not hard to describe. It has single-pane windows, minimal insulation in the walls and attic and 10-to-15-year-old appliances that suck up electricity like there's no tomorrow. What constitutes an energy-efficient house, on the other hand, has been evolving. After years of exhorting home builders and buyers to spring for energy-efficient components, such as high-efficiency furnaces, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched its whole-house Energy Star program in 1995. The goal has been a house that is 30 percent more energy efficient than one built to the standard of the Model Energy Code that home builders in most states are required to...

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