(Credit: DOE Tour of Zero: Eastford Farm Bungalow by Paul Torcellini)

Paul Torcellini’s Connecticut home may look like a traditional bungalow. But there’s an important difference.

Torcellini: “It is a zero-energy house. We produce more energy onsite than we consume in the course of a year.”

As an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Lab, Torcellini has seen lots of tiny, zero-energy homes. But he wanted a more conventional size.

Torcellini: “You know, we’re like, we can do this with a family. We can do this taking five showers or baths a day, and all the laundry that goes with it, and four chest freezers so we can grow and store our own food.”

To provide that energy, he installed solar panels. And to keep heating and cooling needs low, he designed the home with south-facing windows and twelve-inch walls that provide tight insulation … all without breaking the bank.

Torcellini says going zero-energy no longer means drastically altering a building’s budget, size, or style. If a community wants to build a zero-energy school, for example …

Torcellini: “You’ll have multiple architects, engineers saying, ‘I can do that, and I can do it at no additional cost.’ So cost is not the excuse anymore. Technology is not the excuse. It’s the will to just do it.”

Reporting credit: Ariel Hansen/ChavoBart Digital Media.