Energy Producing Homes
Innovative and exciting new construction ventures, which focus on homes that produce their own energy, have been popping up all across the world. These groundbreaking designs explore ways in which a house can produce enough energy to be considered carbon neutral, all through the impressive environment that their designers dream up and implement. Some of these homes are even considered ‘energy-positive’, meaning that they produce more energy than they consume.
The positive effects that these eco-friendly projects can potentially have on the environment, and the construction industry is very inspiring. Although the costs are quite intimidating due to how new this innovation is, the benefits are hard to ignore. Lower energy bills, positive environmental impact, and a healthier living environment are just a few of the benefits that an energy producing home provides its inhabitants.
A prototype of an ‘energy-positive’ house was just recently constructed in Wales by designers at Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture. As part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s Solcer project, this three-bedroom house was constructed in 16 weeks, costing roughly $195,000. According to the builders, the construction costs of this house can be returned by simply selling the excess energy that the house generates.
This impressive home, and homes that are being built like it, reduce energy consumption through a handful of specific design tactics. Features such as low-carbon cement, locally sourced materials, a substantial volume of insulation, solar panels, and battery storage, all lead to a reduction in energy costs and environmental impact. Battery storage systems that these homes feature are highly impactful. They store energy, which will be used to run ventilation, hot water, and heating systems, as well as a number of other electrical devices and appliances.
Just as impressive as the battery storage, are the solar panels being used on construction projects like these. Typically speaking (and in the case of our beautiful house in Wales), the solar panels are fully integrated into the building itself. This integration was designed to reduce the unnecessary costs of attaching solar panels to a standard roof. Additionally, it allows for the roof space below the panels to be illuminated quite naturally.
Phil Jones, professor at the Welsh School of Architecture claims that for every $156 the house spends on energy consumption during the summer months, it should generate $273 in electricity exports. This return is quite meaningful, and overtime will lead to a house that essentially pays for itself.
Outside of homes like these that astonishingly power themselves, houses being built today are up to 50% more energy efficient than existing homes. This overall increase in efficiency is no doubt leading to substantial savings on energy, not to mention a cleaner environment for the individuals inhabiting them. Although we are not all lucky enough to own homes that pay for themselves, this visible trend in green construction and energy conscious living, will play a large factor in shaping design movements and technological innovations. Hopefully someday soon these trends will lead to an obtainable dream of a carbon-neutral home for majority of families around the world.