With less than a month to go in its year-long testing period, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Net-Zero-Energy Residential Test Facility is facing an energy deficit of just 154 kilowatt hours. Will it make up this energy and meet its net-zero goal by July 1? Interested parties can now track the house's progress on a daily countdown via the NIST website.
The 2,700-square-foot house, built on NIST's Gaithersburg, Md., campus officially opened in September 2012, and was designed as a laboratory to demonstrate net-zero capabilities, test advanced technologies, quantify energy use, and compare installed use to controlled use. Its two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath design was crafted to replicate typical home features in the Washington, D.C. area while integrating energy-efficient systems such as a photovoltaic panel display, solar water heating, and energy-efficiency construction techniques and appliances. Since July 1, 2013, mechanical controls and computer software that are separated from the home in the attached garage have simulated the behavior of a family of four: two working parents and two children who are 8 and 14 years old. The goal of simulating the family's use of the home is to demonstrate that a net-zero-energy home can fit into a typical neighborhood.
Overall, the home's energy bill averaged less than $2 a month over the 11 months so far, according to NIST. To qualify as a net-zero-energy home, the house must produce as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year and, as noted earlier, the house is currently running less than 154 kilowatt hours short (roughly $20 worth of energy) of this goal, according to NIST. In its daily countdown, NIST is tracking the home's year-to-date energy bill (with cost calculations based on the Maryland average cost of 12.84 cents per kilowatt hour in 2012). Click here to read more about the house's features and here to access the countdown.