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Dane County couple build the net-zero energy dream home


FITCHBURG, Wis. – Traditional American homes use a lot of energy and most don’t produce any in return.

When Kevin Frick and Jacqueline Friedel, an engaged couple from the Madison area, decided to build their home, they wanted to align their lifestyle with their environmental values.

The couple purchased land in Terravessa, a new home community east of County Highway MM in Fitchburg that promotes sustainable living, to build their net-zero energy home.

A net-zero energy home produces as much electricity on-site as it will consume in a year, nearly eliminating heating and cooling bills.

Frick and Friedel moved into their new home on Thursday.

“It’s been five months of a construction schedule,” Friedel said. “We are very excited. I also think it’s a cool thing to do. We have built a modern house with modern amenities. It seems normal. It just consumes less power and we’ll save money later.

“From my perspective, first of all, we’re helping the environment,” Frick said. “Secondly, we will have almost no electricity bills thanks to our solar panels and the fact that we are completely electric.”

The house was built by Tim O’Brien Homes. It’s 2,300 square feet, with four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. Its exposure to full sun and its 41 solar panels on the roof and the garage should cover its energy consumption all year round.

“We have more isolation than code requires,” Friedel said. “Our builder looked at the framing and structural details to minimize the amount of energy the house needs to operate.”

Frick and Friedel worked closely with Focus On Energy to design the house to be as energy efficient as possible. The organization offers owners and tenants rebates and incentives for energy-efficient projects and products.

“We have all appliances Energy Star certified,” Freidel said. “The refrigerator, dishwasher and a double oven are all electric and use less energy. The induction cooker is not necessarily more energy efficient, but a smarter way to use energy. We also have an electric fireplace, which will use less energy overall. »

An air source heat pump heats and cools the house, and a heat pump water heater provides hot water.

“This system alone compared to a normal water heater was a significant saving,” Frick said. “Up to 15% of total home energy consumption for the year.”

“Time will tell how well it works in the winter months compared to the summer months,” Friedel said. “That’s when we’ll really see the difference. In theory this should make us more comfortable, we won’t have heating and cooling fluctuations like you do with a furnace and it will work more efficiently. »

It costs more to build a net-zero energy home, but with tax rebates and incentives, it’s becoming more affordable and more common.

“It was surprisingly not much more expensive to be energy efficient,” Frick said. “The biggest investment was the solar panels. They cost $35,000, but we recoup 30% of the cost of the solar panels as a federal tax credit in addition to other rebates from Focus On Energy.

It will take Frick and Friedel eight to nine years to break even from solar panels. “It’ll be a lot quicker than that on home,” Friedel said. “The total lifespan of the panels is usually around 25 to 30 years.”

Not including the land, the house built with all energy efficiency after Focus On Energy rebates cost $485,000. Data from MLS and public records show that the current median price for single-family homes in Fitchburg is $449,900.

Kevin proposed to Jackie on the land they bought before the house was built. They are planning a wedding for the summer of next year.

“We already have fond memories of a key milestone in this house,” Friedel said. “I hope for the ease of living in this house, less worries, comfort and a family. All things classic.



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