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In the American Southwest's desert environment, the sun shines most days. This means that it's practical--although still expensive--to build a house with a net zero use of external energy. The Denver Post reports that "The specter of steeply escalating energy bills is helping push zero energy from a theoretical ideal to an achievable standard in new-home construction."

"Among Xcel Energy's 1.5 million customers in Colorado, only about five households have achieved net zero energy status, utility officials estimate. Not many homeowners have embraced zero energy because it's expensive. Building a new home with the equipment and materials needed for zero energy requires a minimum extra investment of $20,000 to $70,000 above the price of a conventional home, with a payback period of up to 30 years at today's energy prices."

"Many utilities, including Xcel Energy, allow homeowners to sell excess solar electricity back to the grid through a process called net metering. By tying photovoltaic electric production to a net meter, homeowners can offset the cost of power they purchase from the utility at night or during cloudy periods when the solar panels don't produce."

This is an example of the extreme demand reduction that is possible in some segments of the energy industry.

by asdf on Sun Oct 23rd, 2005 at 02:55:48 PM EST

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