Nestled in with all the other Craftsmen style homes in Ohio Township, PA's trendy Cobblestone Estates neighborhood is the Best Practices Research Alliance (BPRA) Lab Home, a net-zero energy home standing as a paragon for the movement to zap energy bills from the lives of homeowners.
Built by S&A Homes in partnership with IBACOS, the four-bedroom home will be a sort of live-in laboratory over the next few years, housing experts who will monitor the various HVAC systems and home energy usage/generation.
The Lab Home was built upon the successes of the S&A E-Home of 2009, which wasn't quite net-zero but did cut monthly energy bills by $150. That home featured 2x6 exterior construction, ultra low-e windows, CFL lighting and high-perfomance HVAC systems.
The new Lab Home includes a horizontal loop ground source heat pump system, 8" exterior walls filled with R-40 insulation and solar panels.
You can follow the progress of the Lab Home on their blog.
I'd love to live in a net-zero home, but I'm a little ways away from realizing that dream. Still, making energy-efficiency upgrades here and there can only get a person closer. Little weatherizing projects can go a long way over time.