The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

17 September 2005

Saving a few energy bucks

At what point do renewables become less expensive than fossil fuels? I buy 600 kW from OG&E's wind farm every month at two bucks a 100-kW unit; in exchange, the fuel-adjustment factor is eliminated from the bill.

For the period ending 9/9, the wind option cost me the usual $12; the fuel-adjustment factor came to $11.77.

So with natural-gas prices out of sight for almost half the billing period, the difference between electricity from gas and electricity from wind was a whole twenty-three cents out of a $95 bill. I have to assume that the tipping point is well within reach.

Beyond my reach, but obviously within someone's, is Ideal Homes' prototype Zero Energy Home, funded in part by the Department of Energy with technical assistance from OG&E, and tucked away into the Valencia subdivision at 2508 NW 180th Street. The idea isn't new, but the price point is: this is, says Ideal, the first ZEH in the nation to carry a sub-$200k price tag.

"Zero," of course, is an approximation, but the house is designed to produce about as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. Climate control comes from a ground-source heat pump, which takes advantage of the fact that ground temperatures vary a lot less than air temperatures. The roof of the south side of the house is fitted with an array of 28 photovoltaic cells, grabbing energy directly from sunlight. The glass is double-pane low-E; the water heater is tankless.

The house will be leased for twelve months, starting around the first of the new year, in testing mode, after which time it will be sold; the target price is $199,000, which is on the high side for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with 1650 square feet, but the energy savings should compensate for that, and Ideal has said that the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the local Habitat for Humanity. Two other houses currently in the Valencia development have some of the energy-saving features, but there's only the one full-on Zero Energy Home.

For now.

Posted at 2:30 PM to Entirely Too Cool , Family Joules

Where did you say this house was? $200,000? It's not on either coast, or it would be a garage, outhouse or shed situated on 6 sq feet of land.

I want this house! I'll pay cash!

Posted by: miriam at 8:28 AM on 18 September 2005

Now you know why I don't live on either coast, but halfway between them. (And this house is about ten miles due north of my house.)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:38 AM on 18 September 2005