NIST's new Net-Zero Energy Home could eliminate heating, electric bills

    Photo: National Institute Of Standards And Technology

    Would you like to eliminate your heating and electric bills?

    There's a home in Gaithersburg that could make that happen.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology's new Net-Zero Energy House is built to produce as much energy as it uses. And at a surprisingly affordable price.

    Builders tell ABC7 they could build this home, excluding land costs in the Washington Metropolitan Area, to meet net zero, for about $800,000.

    Built in 14 months with federal stimulus money on NIST's Gaithersburg campus, the 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house has solar panels, geo-thermal heating, 10-inch thick insulation, and energy-efficient everything.

    The idea is that people can have it all.

    "They could buy a house that looked traditional, felt traditional, and yet was zero energy," says architect Betsy Pettit. "It didn't have to look odd, it didn't have to look weird."

    But the building is just the first part. In about six weeks, a family is going to move in here: the "Nisters."

    Engineer Farhad Omar showed us the metal devices simulating Mr. and Mrs Nister and their two kids, ages 14 and 8 and how they'll use energy in different parts of the house.

    The monitors will all be plugged in, and appliances programmed to turn off and on, just as if a real family were using them.

    "For example, some video game console, for kids their laptops are on, cell phone chargers," Omar says. "Showers? showers, yes."

    Scientists will monitor the Nisters for a year. But even after they "move out," the house will live on, as a test lab for new energy-saving technologies.

    To learn more and to see architectural drawings and follow the experiments, go to NIST's project website.

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