This 5.13 kW grid-tied system generates electricity for this certified net zero energy home in Asheville, NC.
As featured in our May newsletter:
On a beautiful Sunday May afternoon a few weeks ago, Asheville 350 (featured in the Community Connections feature) hosted an energy forum called “Go Fossil Free.” It was there that I made the acquaintance of Brad and Susan Parker, a lovely couple that was attending the event to support a clean energy future. With their dream of achieving a net zero energy home recently realized, they were interested in seeing what more they could to do in the community. I was so inspired that I immediately thought that theirs had to be my next feature…. and so it is!
Here’s what they had to say about their experience:
“For decades, Susan and I dreamed of designing and building a home in the mountains. We fell in love with Asheville and in 2006 finally found a lot near Craven Gap that met our criteria. Along the way, we established a mission statement, which included a commitment to building a net zero energy (NZE) home. This conviction was partly due to Brad’s knowledge of climate change science gained through a long career with NASA.
Research of NZE home design led us to the German Passivhaus (passive solar) concept. We used many of the Passivhaus principles to design an energy efficient home, which was completed in 2014 and became fully occupied in 2015. A grid-tied PV 5.1 kW system was installed by Sundance in late 2015 and we began our quest to become NZE over the next 12 months. Working with Samsel Architects, we achieved NZE certification in 2017 from the International Living-Future Institute (ILFI). At the time of the certification, we had the distinction of having the smallest PV system on an ILFI certified building. A case study of our home can be found on the Living-Future.org website.
We have used on average 505 kWh of energy per month since the system was installed. At current Duke rates this translates to monthly savings of approximately $50.We would have liked to gone completely off- grid, but the battery technology was still lagging at the time that we were researching system options. Duke Energy’s net- zeroing policy for grid-tied systems does us no favors, as we still pay a monthly service charge and we lose accumulated credits every June. With the upcoming net zeroing cycle by Duke Energy, we will have given over 1000 kWh back to Duke Energy with no compensation. Time to get an electric car!”
It is extremely gratifying to see the Parkers setting the example that becoming net- zero is achievable when an energy strategy is followed. Duncan McPherson of Samsel Architects emphasized the effectiveness of this approach with the following statement: “I think the project ‘s use of passive solar design, efficient space planning, conventional construction and HVAC equipment make it a great example of creating a house that focused on the fundamentals of environmental design principles. Adding the photovoltaics (PV) was a way to then push the house over the top for net zero.” For us, that was a relatively easy process, as the low-slope standing seam metal roof allowed for an easy installation of the 18 SolarWorld 285 watt modules. SolarEdge SE 5000 Inverter and DC Optimization Technology was used for increased efficiency and system monitoring.
Over 25 years, the system is estimated to produce 130,637 kWH of clean electricity, with a carbon offset equivalent of 204,931 lbs. Their story stands to support the idea that we can go fossil free, and a clean energy future is possible.