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Why Would You Build Any Other Way?

Ever try reading by candle light? Not much fun. If you really have to read something; you’d use an electric light, not a candle. How about saddling up the horse to go to the store while your car sits in the driveway?  Not likely.  Some things just make no sense any more.

Will I buy a car that gets 12 miles to the gallon? I don’t think so, not when I can get one that is more comfortable and gets 35 miles to the gallon.

Do moms use cloth diapers? Nope. Look something up in an Encyclopedia Britannica?  No, you are going to Google it, aren’t you?

Progress, you gotta love it.

I loved playing in the basement at my grandmother’s house when I was a kid, it had a coal chute for the coal that went to the coal pile next the furnace where Grandpa had to go to shovel black dusty coal into the hopper to keep the house warm. Once he was able to convert to natural gas that was cheaper and piped in automatically, you think he was yearning to shovel coal again?  Not likely.

It’s that way with a lot of things. Once we learn the new way, the old way is, well, obsolete. Sometimes old ways need to be pushed out of the way. Horses were pushed aside by the mass produced automobile. Low MPG cars were pushed out of the way by the higher price of gasoline. Oil lamps were made obsolete by electricity.

Electricity was introduced in people’s homes soon followed by air conditioning. But years ago electricity was cheap. Our homes were designed around the low cost to heat and cool them; little if any insulation, power hungry appliances, and inefficient heating and cooling.  Many houses are still designed that way.

If I asked you to keep my beer cold or my fried chicken warm, you would give me an insulated and sealed thermos cooler, not the box the cooler came in, but most houses are designed like the cardboard box, not the beer cooler. The house has cracks and vents, and holes.

I am here to tell you that the way houses are being built needs to be changed, and is indeed happening around us. Once you learn this way, the old way, just like the reading by candle light or heating with coal, will be obsolete. You will say to yourself, “Why would I build any other way?”

What I am talking about is Net Zero homes. A Net Zero home is a home that is designed from the ground up and in every little detail to not consume any more electricity that it can produce. Over a year the home owner will have a net zero energy consumption. That’s right, no cost to heat or cool or light up the night, or to watch TV, or to listen to music or heat water. ZERO.

Just like many innovations, Net Zero needed a push. That push is coming in the increasing cost of electricity and the cost of the oil and coal to produce it. Net Zero will  now make conventional home building obsolete because economically Net ZERO make sense.  Net Zero is getting a further push because the cost of going to NET Zero has been lowered to be within reach of every home.  If you could now build a house for the same cost as a leaky energy hog house, why would you build any other way? You wouldn’t.

If you could avoid the increase in electrical costs per KWH every year wouldn’t you? If you could save the $200/month in electrical bills and use that money to either pay off your mortgage sooner or buy more house would you?  Of Course.

First let me say this: There is no magic bullet. Sure there may be a few things in these houses you may not have heard of before, but for the most part a Net Zero home uses technology that has been around a while. The value add here is that a Net Zero home is designed scientifically, and manufactured under strict standards and specifications with every energy detail considered and working together to achieve the net zero energy consumption.

There are five steps to Net Zero

1.       An Air and Water tight building envelope.  Think refrigerator, not the box it came in. We are talking six inch walls insulated with closed cell foam, no gaps, no seams, no vents; reflective roofs, and thermal hurricane resistant windows. No air comes in or out or the house except by design though the heat exchange valve that keeps the air fresh without losing energy.

2.       Energy efficient Heating and Cooling. Net Zero homes use graduated duct system and variable high seer air systems.

3.       Heat water for Free. We use a closed or open loop solar water heater. In an obsolete house heating water is approximately 17% of the electric bill.

4.       Conserve electricity where ever possible. Energystar appliances, high efficiency fans, efficient lighting and a master shut off “vacant home” switch.

5.       Once the house is made as efficient as possible and designed to consume as little electricity as possible, we produce electricity using photo voltaic panels on the roof.

The additional benefits of Net Zero design are houses that are built to exceed all hurricane codes, a house made with no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)emitting paints, carpets, or flooring. A Net Zero home is an exceptionally quiet, safe, and is a healthy home that is low maintenance and built for life.

Why would you build any other way?


Gregg Fous is owner and Founder of Market America Realty and Investments, Inc. and is developing Net Zero Homes here in Florida. The first models have opened in Madiera Beach and Largo and 12 more are under construction. Net Zero homes were just approved for an affordable housing project in Denedin, Florida, and a water front luxury home is being constructed in Treasure Island. Marker America is looking at several locations on Fort Myers Beach, within the city of Fort Myers, and in Naples.