NYTimes Coverage and Slideshow: Zero Net Energy Test Homes in Fontana, Homeowner Feedback, and Plans for Expansion


The development of zero net energy (ZNE) homes in Fontana announced last April got press as the focus of this June 3rd New York Times article:  A Suburban Experiment Aims for Free Energy. Visit the New York Times for the full story – including feedback from the Genaus, a family living in one of the homes (and seeing utility bills of $10 on their 2,800 sq.ft. 3-bedroom residence), and a great slide show of the homes. The story emphasizes the need to learn from the pilot not just how to build ZNE, but how to ensure ZNE-built homes operate as ZNE.

For some of the features of these homes, see the excerpt from the article below:

For buyers, part of the appeal of a home built to be zero-energy is that they do not have to change their behavior to save energy.

At Meritage, the company insulates every house with spray foam, sharply reducing the amount of heating and cooling needed, and allowing smaller or fewer units to be installed. Making the homes even more efficient are dual-pane windows that help retain or keep out heat (depending on the need), LED lighting and advanced water heaters that work by funneling heat from the ambient air into the water.

All of the test homes have SunPower rooftop solar systems, which are among the most efficient on the market. And because they were designed along with the houses, the arrays can be oriented for maximum production.

Half of the test homes also have energy storage systems with LG batteries and Eguana inverters, which help manage the flow of electricity between the solar installation, home and grid, to allow researchers to test and compare how much value they add. The houses come equipped with A. O. Smith water heaters that can be remotely controlled and Trane smart thermostats that can manage all the equipment and can connect to cameras and security systems.

For more on zero net energy, click here.

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