With today’s struggling economy, people not only within Western Pennsylvania but also across the entire United States are considering various ways to reduce their home energy costs. Imagine waking up every day and not having to collect so many bills from the mailbox. Bill and Marilyn Spohn from right here in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania do just that! In the suburbs of Indiana Township just north of Pittsburgh, the couple built a net-zero energy home back in February 2020, which has reduced their home energy costs and helped the environment.
This home would have never been built without the help of the company Conservation Consultants Inc. (CCI). They are a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1978 that creates a net-zero living environment for healthy homes to be. Their main goal is to serve families, small businesses, and different communities healthier homes, shops, and neighborhoods to become energy efficient.
As the $700,000 home was being built, the goal was to incorporate ZERO energy. At the request of Bill Spohn and his wife Marilyn the home was to include solar panels, high-performance windows and doors, as well as high performance appliances. The designers of the home angled the foundation of the house facing the fields on the land. They needed the home to catch as much sunlight as possible so the solar panels would fill with sunlight which would help take care of the heat, air conditioning, and lighting. The designers also put black material wrapping around the house that has layers underneath of it to proper air flow. Additional items in the house that were installed were a heat pumping water heater and a heat pump clothes dryer. As for food, the Spohn’s use induction cooking. Because of all the sunlight needed, Bill and his wife Marilyn nicknamed their plot of land “Sunny Field”.
From all the energy the Spohn’s have saved, they do not have a gas bill because their appliances are electric. Also, they do not have a water or sewage bill due to having well water and a septic system. By taking the time to build a house like this one, is the biggest thing you can do to take control over your use of energy. If the average person is planning to stay in their home for the next 10 or 20 years, having a house like this is an upgrade that will help with future expenses in the long run.
Even if the general population cannot afford to go as far as building a net-zero energy home, there are things people can do to cut their energy costs. One of the things suggested by Conservation Consultants could be getting a home energy audit to see where the leaks are in a home. Sealing the leaks and adding sufficient insulation is the lowest cost and most productive way to lower energy bills in your home. Other ways could be by turning off the air conditioning or turning up the thermostat, turning off any running water, and unplugging electronics that are not being used.
The highlight of this blog though is the net-zero energy home which is always soaking up the sun right here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Road trip anyone?