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On the Path to Zero Energy Homes

Description: Just imagine living in Florida and your fantasies might turn to swaying palms, fresh orange juice and lots of air-conditioning. For most people, a summer spent in Florida's heat and humidity would be unbearable without it. So air-conditioning is a necessity. But it's also a big energy drain, accounting for about 35% of all electricity used in a typical Florida house. As the largest single source of energy consumption in Florida, a home's air-conditioning load represents the biggest energy challenge. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) designed a project to answer this challenge. Two homes were built with the same floor plan on near-by lots. The difference was that one (the ''control home'') conformed to local residential building practices, and the other (the ''Zero Energy home'') was designed with energy efficiency in mind and solar technology systems on the roof. The homes were then monitored carefully for energy use. The project's designers were looking to answer two important questions: Could a home in a climate such as central Florida's be engineered and built so efficiently that a relatively small PV system would serve the majority of its cooling needs--and even some of its daytime electrical needs? And, would that home be as comfortable and appealing as the conventional model built alongside it? The answer to both questions turned out to be a resounding yes. And the test was especially rigorous, because it was conducted in the summer of 1998--one of the hottest summers on record in Florida. This news is important for city planners, architects, builders, and homeowners not only in the Sunshine State, but elsewhere, too. The solar/energy efficiency combo worked so well in Florida that it can--and should--be tried in other parts of the country. This brochure describes the Zero Energy Homes concept using a case study.
Date: March 30, 2001
Creator: Merrigan, T.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department