California is moving towards a mandate for zero net energy for residential new construction by 2020. Zero net energy means the home cannot consume more net energy than it generates.
Yup. California homes are going to have to generate as much energy as they consume by 2020. The next question is, how?
Unless the “Mr. Fusion” power plants from the film Back to the Future become reality, home power generation is likely to come from solar. The obvious question is, how practical is this? If you throw enough money at the problem, limit houses to a single story to give collectors more room, build a house in a nice sunny locale, and ignore practical aspects of modern American life, like 1,200 to 1,600 Watt blow dryers, it’s possible to build a zero net energy home. Several demonstration projects have proven it.
But the question is not, is it possible? The question is, how practical is it?
An Oklahoma home builder did manage to construct a home claimed to be zero net energy for a “small” premium. It only cost 60% more, which is considered quite a bargain compared to some of the other demonstration projects.
The 60% premium means the return on the extra investment is around 2%. Live in the home 50 years and you can not only feel smug about your zero net energy home, you can finally break even.
Of course the median home price in Oklahoma City is $130,000 according to the National Association of Realtors™. In Los Angeles it’s $588,000. And the state wants to make it more expensive?
In the DC Metropolitan ara, the median home price is $438,000.
Of course we don't have to wait for this to come to Maryland, our legislators are doing just fine when it comes to proposals that will cost home owners more money.