MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Todd Houser of Meridian Township began a unique project on Park Lake Rd. between Melville and Heather Drives.
After an unsuccessful house hunt and two and a half years of planning, Houser decided to build his own house, a net-zero energy home.
A net zero energy home is a home that requires less energy to operate than it produces itself.
The home has solar panels that serve as a primary source of energy.
"I purchase energy off of the grid from Consumers Energy when the panels aren't producing enough energy for me to use. When the panels are producing more than I need, it pushes energy onto the grid. The difference ends up being my monthly bill. Some times I have a bill but many of the months I don't," Houser said.
He said surprisingly, the efficiency of the home is mainly due to the builders and the framers.
"They build a house in such a way that they really conceal it very, very tightly, and even if the walls weren't highly insulated, probably the most important factor is having it very air tight," Houser said.
The air flow in and out of the home is approximately one-tenth that of a traditional home being built today.
The walls are also made with structural insulated wall panels which with polystyrene six and a half inches thick.
Heat captured from a gas fireplace heats the home and its water and a white plastic membrane roof reflects sunlight keeping the house cooler.
"It took some getting use to living in the house because it is different than a normal house," he said. "I have to move and adjust the blinds and shades in the house to reduce solar gain in the summer and reduce it in the winter time and making sure everything running well."
And though the house is on Park Lake Rd., it will still be very quiet.
"The way it's constructed, it's very quiet. I really enjoy a quiet home. I have a bout 240 trees that are going to be planted over the next 2 or 3 months and once they mature its going to buffer some of that road noise."
This is the first project of this size for Houser.
"Its a great sense of accomplishment but its been more work than I thought and I haven't yet been able to relax. I still have quite a bit of finish work to do. I'm eager to get to the end of this year because then I'll be able to relax and just let the house kind of run on its own," Houser said.
He did give some advice to anyone looking to build an energy efficient home:
1. Do your homework.
2. You can be your own general contractor.
3. Building with structural insulated panels is wise.
4. Having a traditional framed gable roof is is more cost effective than a flat roof.
5. Avoid larger windows because they lose a lot of heat in the winter.
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