We finished our first “high performance” home in 2019. It is at Evans Farm in Lewis Center, Ohio. We live there now. By high performance, we mean low energy consumption, not off-grid. Our first house still costs about $750 per year for its electric utility power, which accounts for about half of the power we use (all-electric, we really cannot use gas, oil, coal, and wood anymore). The remainder comes from solar panels on our garage. Key factors that make this possible are a tight Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) envelope, triple glazed windows, efficient HVAC, efficient electrical appliances, and LED lighting, Our Tesla Model 3 costs about $250 to run for a year, for about 10,000 miles. So, total cash to the utility is about $1,000 per year (1)
Our good experience with our home encouraged us to build another home for sale as a way to push this better technology out into our community where people could see it and learn about it. We started that second house, a 3 bedroom ranch with basement, early in 2021 and finished it in October.. It sold before it was done. The November electric bill (house is all-electric) was $97. That is right on target. Summer 2022 should see some negative bills.
We learned many things about home building on the second house project, and chief among those was that it is possible to build high quality, efficient homes for not much more than conventional timber-framed structures. Yes, it will cost a bit more. Perhaps 5% more, but we really can’t afford not to spend that 5% given the environmental crisis we are presently experiencing. That money will come back to the occupants quickly, very likely making the slightly higher mortgage payment and utilities combined even lower overall. Every new home should be a high-performance home.