Experimental House Built to Test Energy Technology
Thanks to the ongoing research into technologies such as thin film solar cells, one day it should be possible to make your house its own power source, so you would not need to depend on the power grid and its sources of energy. That day for thin film solar cells is still a distance into the future, but such a house has, in theory, already been built. The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility built by NIST is a two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath house that, over the course of a year, should create as much energy as it would use if an average family of four was to live there.
The technology used to achieve this is already commercially available, but has not been tested like this before. The solar panels on the roof, geothermal system underground, and solar water-heating system should together produce as much energy in a year as the house would use in the same year, but only testing this hypothesis can truly verify it. Currently though, the test is not completely realistic, as no humans will be in the house for the entire year of testing. Instead software will control the use of household appliances, and other devices are in the house to simulate the presence of humans.
If this house does achieve its net-zero energy goal, it will be a major success for all those interested in minimizing their environmental footprint. Of course not all of these technologies are going to be accessible to all homeowners, but by even showing it is possible, many may try to reach for that goal. Besides, as the associated technologies improve, we may one day see net-negative homes.