The students of Weber State University in Ogden Utah built a Craftsman style house for the Solar Decathlon (SD) to prove that they could build a net zero home without it “sticking out” and one that would appeal to a wide audience. The house was built in partnership with the city of Ogden that gave them this piece of land to build this SD house; that lot had been empty for about 10 years. The house was built in the same size range (at 2450 square feet) of the other houses in the area and is designed to meet the demands of large families and multi-generational families.
The house was designed with large overhangs to nearly eliminate solar heat gain. Windows were located on the house to maximize heat gain in the winter and minimize it in the summer – with more windows on the East side to allow solar heat gain in the winter, and limited west facing windows and no windows on the south to minimize solar heat gain during the summer.
This all electric house has mini splits for heating and cooling. With the additional placement of the windows, excellent insulation (with ICF foundation and SIPs walls), and ENERGY STAR verified appliances, the utility costs for this house with the solar panels is calculated to be 96 dollars yearly ($9 per month is the cost to be connected to the electrical grid).
With the production of solar energy from the solar panels the house will be net zero. The hpanels will be able to generate at least 20 kilowatt-hours in a 24-hour period. With the energy produced, there will be enough energy to charge and operate an electric car, which can be driven 20 miles per day. It will also be able to support all critical loads off grid for up to 3 days when necessary.
The homeowners guide, produced by the students was truly impressive. It includes information on almost every item in the house, with instructions on how to take care of them, who to call for repairs, info on manufacturers and warranties on items and so on. Anyone who has moved into a new house knows how difficult it can be to know how things work, how to care for them and who to call when they don’t work. This manual written by the team is really a model that all builders should consider sharing with homeowners on the houses they build.
The team was amazing at educating visitors to this house not only with their manual but with a kiosk they erected in the garage of the house demonstrating materials and systems.
The public living spaces were intentionally located on the East side of the home along with large windows to allow ample daylight and beautiful views of the sunrises and sunsets. The house was designed to take full advantage of all the space. There are no upstairs hallways in order to give a feeling of spaciousness to the area and to accommodate for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility. The team commented that “All potential buyers who walked through the home commented on how much bigger it felt than it appeared from the exterior. We knew we were successful when the sub-contractors, who were working on the build, started asking if they could buy the home.”
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