In 2006, Matt Grocoff bought a century-old house in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It had a south-facing roof, big windows, and heart pine floors.

“It was our dream house,” he says.

But it lacked insulation, the windows leaked, and a 50-year-old furnace chugged away all winter long.

“We had to put buckwheat pillows heated up in the microwave and stuffed down at the bottom of the bed to stay warm at night,” Grocoff says. “And then we would get the utility bill, and it was like 350 bucks a month.”

Grocoff was determined to reduce energy waste and cut carbon pollution.

He installed a geothermal heating and cooling system and rooftop solar panels. And he replaced appliances, added insulation, and installed storm windows – all while preserving the home’s original character and meeting historic preservation standards.

In 2015, the International Living Future Institute certified Grocoff’s home as net-zero energy, meaning it produces as much energy as it uses. It’s the oldest house in the country to earn that certification.

“And we’re looking forward to giving up that crown,” Grocoff says.

Because he says to limit climate change, it’s necessary to cut carbon pollution from all homes – including the ones that have been around for generations.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.