Zero energy home
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Zero Energy Home. Jason Reichart , Daniel Hucker , Steffen Sprow , Kory Witmer March 25 , 2010. Goal: Design a cost-efficient, energy saving home. Goals of the Group Comfortable, Efficient House, Suitable for a Small Family (3 bedroom) Large Spacious Rooms

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Zero Energy Home

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Zero energy home

Zero Energy Home

Jason Reichart, Daniel Hucker, Steffen Sprow, Kory Witmer

March 25, 2010

Goal design a cost efficient energy saving home

Goal: Design a cost-efficient, energy saving home

  • Goals of the Group

    • Comfortable, Efficient House,

    • Suitable for a Small Family (3 bedroom)

    • Large Spacious Rooms

    • Capable of Entertaining Guests

  • Important Features

    • Ground Source Heat Pump

    • Few Walls, Doors, as well as large foyer to open up the house to maximize ventilation and air flow.

    • Large Solar Panel Area on the Roof facing the Southern side.

    • 2025 square feet.

Important lessons that other homes taught us

Important lessons that other homes taught us

  • Important Lessons

    • Looked at 6 Homes

    • Although expensive, solar panels placed properly provide easy pay-back system with tax rebates and energy savings.

    • Heat Pump provides energy efficient system and eliminates need for water heater.

    • Expensive investments will create early debt but worth it in the end (solar panels, Heat Pumps, High R-Value Insulation).

Heat transmission

Heat Transmission

  • The four main ways that the envelope affects energy use are heat transmission, air leakage, solar gain, and natural ventilation.

  • Heat transmission calculates the heat that transfers through the solid surfaces of the household.

  • Using the surface area of our North facing wall and a change in temperature across the surface of 40 degrees, the heat transmission rate would be about 4650 Btu/h.

Air leakage

Air Leakage

  • The air leakage equation is a heat calculation.

  • It calculates the heat that is needed to bring the outside air that leaks through the envelope to the inside air temperature.

  • The volume of our household is approximately 19200 ft cubed. We used an air changes per hour value of .3, assuming that our household is constructed rather “tightly”.

  • Using these numbers, and a temperature change of about 40 degrees, we calculate an air leakage value of about 69.12 Btu/min.



  • Clothes Washer

    • Kenmore Elite HE3t Steam 46742

    • Water Use: 14.2 (gal/yr)

    • Energy Use: .38 (kwh/day)

  • Television

    • Sharp Aquos LC-46LE700UN (LCD)

    • Size: 46”

    • Power When On: 90 (Watts)

    • Energy Use: .46 (kwh/day)



  • Refrigerator

    • Model: GE - GSH25ISXSS

    • Size: 25.3 ft^3

    • Energy Use: 1.38 kwh/day

  • Dishwasher

    • Model: Kenmore 24“

    • Water Use: 4.8 gal/cycle

    • Energy Use: .85 kwh/day

Ground source heat pump

Ground Source Heat Pump

  • What is a ground source heat pump

  • A ground source heat pump is an energy efficient system used to heat and cool the house as well as provide hot water to the inhabitants.

  • How does it work?

  • The ground source heat pump uses the Earth’s constant temperature to provide heating and cooling for homes.

  • These pumps circulate water or an antifreeze solution through a system of plastic pipes.

  • During the winter, the solution collects heat from the Earth and carries it into the building while in the summer, the solution collects the heat and carries it out of the building into the ground, thus cooling the building.


Benefits to gshp

Benefits to GSHP

  • Hot water is free in the summer and creates significant hot water savings in the winter.

  • Can be installed in every home, regardless of size or location. The pump itself can be placed under the house, lawn, or driveway.

  • Due to this heating process, hot water is free in the summer and creates significant hot water savings in the winter (Up to 50%).

  • Cuts energy consumption by 20% to 50% and allows you to save up to 80% on energy bill.

  • Quiet and safe, providing an enjoyable atmosphere and environment in the house.

  • Investments and initial payments reimbursed after only a few years due to energy savings.

  • Usually carries a 50-year warranty.

Our product choice

Our Product Choice…

  • McQuay Geothermal Heat Pump 3 Ton VFW-1036

  • Energy Star Rated

  • $3,455 – With 30% Government Tax Credit

  • 37,600-39,000 BTU/Hour


Solar electricity and components

Solar Electricity and Components

S outh facing wall maximizes solar production

South facing wall maximizes solar production

The south facing roof has approximately 750 ft2 (70 m2) for solar panels

Producing 11,000 KWh per year

Cost estimates

Cost Estimates

  • Initial cost of $70,000

  • A Savings of $1400 in electrical bills each year

  • Home increases $29,000 in value

  • A $21,000 federal tax credit

  • PA Sunshine Solar Rebate of about $19,000

  • Renewable Energy Credit Value of $2,400

  • By the end of one year the net cost will be $26,000 and your home will increase in value by $29,000



  • The R-value for insulation is a measure of the thermal resistance. It is a ratio of the temperature difference across an insulator and the amount of heat that flows through it.

  • The larger the R-value, the better the insulation.

  • The material we chose to use for our insulation was closed-cell polyurethane spray foam. It has a per inch R-value of about 5.5 to 6.5.

  • The plyurethane spray is a loose fill insulation that can conform to any space. It expands to form a continuous layer of insulation.

R values


  • The walls of our house we are insulating to R25. This would require our walls to be about five inches thick.

  • The floors in the house are insulated to R30. This would require a rough thickness of about six inches.

  • The ceiling of the house is insulated at R60. The thickness of our ceiling will be approximately ten inches.

Views of sketchup model

Views of SketchUp Model

Summer Solstice (Jun 21) at noon

Winter Solstice (Dec 21) at noon

March 18 at 9 AM

Summer Solstice (Jun 21) at 4 PM

Winter Solstice (Dec 21) at 4 PM

March 18 at 2 PM

Views of sketchup model1

Views of SketchUp Model

Back View

X-Ray View

West View

Vertical Room View

Views of sketchup model2

Views of SketchUp Model

Master Bathroom


Main Entrance

Living Room

Physical model

Physical Model

  • 1st Floor

    • Dining Room

    • Kitchen

    • Living Room

    • Bathroom

    • Laundry Room

    • Foyer

  • Second Floor

    • 3 Bedrooms

    • Bathroom

Producing renewable energy

Producing Renewable Energy

  • The energy produced by this house comes from the solar panels on the roof

  • The panels cover most of the roof and will produce enough energy to be a zero energy home

  • Cost is the biggest factor for the solar panels but the savings in energy bill, government tax credits, and increase in the value of the home compensate for high initial cost

Evaluating actual cost

Evaluating Actual Cost

  • Initial Cost

  • Energy Cost

  • Government Incentives

  • Total Cost = Initial Cost + Energy Cost – Incentives

  • After considering all the savings and incentives it is worth paying a higher initial cost to save money in the long run

Steffen i love windows

Steffen: “I Love Windows”

  • The 5 bay windows on the

    south-facing side allow

    lots of natural lighting

  • Gives the house

    an “outdoorsy” feel

  • Both functional and stylish

Jason ceilings

Jason: Ceilings

My favorite feature of the home we built is the high ceilings that give it a very spacious feel. The high ceilings come from the step pitch in the roof and the lining room doesn’t have a second floor over it.

Kory balcony

Kory: Balcony

  • My favorite aspect of our house design is the balcony.

  • The balcony overlooks a portion of the living room, and really opens up the house.

Dan favorite feature

Dan: Favorite Feature

  • Large Open Rooms

    • Allows us to entertain guests

    • Maximizes Air Flow and Ventilation

    • Allows for many windows in one room to provide natural welcoming light



  • Instills an idea of what we can look for in the future when buying a house.

  • No matter what we do, nothing is “good” for the environment. The best we can achieve is “environmentally less shitty”.

  • The greatest conserver of energy is by far the ground source heat pump.

  • The costs of energy efficiency may be great in the beginning, but over time they will pay themselves back.

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