‘This house is not a science experiment’

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A ground-breaking, net-zero energy house in Wyoming is helping to change the way builders and homeowners think about eco-friendly construction designs. 

As Cowboy State Daily detailed, a group of students at the University of Wyoming teamed up with faculty advisors Tony Denzer and John Gardzelewski to make the zero-energy home a reality. 

After researching energy-efficient homes throughout Wyoming, the research group designed and constructed the net-zero energy home, which is listed for $1.1 million.

Homes that are net-zero energy do not rely on a traditional power grid to function. Instead, the homes produce enough renewable energy to cover the home’s total power usage, making the house carbon-free and providing homeowners with low or zero energy bills.

Thanks to efficient insulation and smart energy, the home stays heated during the winter months and cool during the summer months. It also features solar panels and a heat pump, while the house’s position helps keep it warm during the winter. The students purposely placed windows according to the sun’s position so that warmth could better enter the home.

In terms of up-front costs, the energy-efficient designs add about 10% extra to the home’s construction.  However, the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term costs. According to Denzer and Gardzelewski, after seven to eight years, the additional expenses are paid off in energy savings, and the energy produced for the home is free.

“This house is not a science experiment,” Denzer told Cowboy State Daily. “We didn’t invent anything, and that was on purpose. The philosophy was that we want to demonstrate this is feasible for ordinary Wyoming homebuilders.”

The design of the Wyoming home was recognized as the second-best net-zero home in the U.S. and the fourth-best in the world in the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual Decathlon.

Net-zero energy homes do not emit any harmful gases into the atmosphere, making them carbon-free. By utilizing renewable energy, additional insulation, and smart technology, net-zero energy homes encourage the use of sustainable resources and reduce homeowners’ energy bills down the road.

After seeing their design come to life, students at the University of Wyoming discussed their favorite details about the home.

“My favorite feature I think is — and just because a lot of other people said it was their favorite feature as well — was the radiant floor heating we did,” said Travis Wicks, one of the students who helped design the home.

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