Weare company working to make zero energy houses more affordable
WEARE — A local company is working to make Zero Energy homes more affordable for New Hampshire residents.
Bruce Fillmore’s Weare-based company — Homes for a Lifetime LLC — has been building energy efficient houses for the past decade.
As defined by the U.S. Department of Energy, a Zero Energy Ready Home is a high-performance home which is so energy efficient. that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.
Homes for a Lifetime LLC wrapped up construction on its first Zero Energy home last month.
Through renewable energy mechanisms such as solar panels, the Zero Energy house, as the name suggests, produces all the energy its owners consume.
“You look at it, and it looks like every other house down the road,” Fillmore said.
But when you look at the framework, there are differences. Each house is airtight, with an electric heating system that looks like and can double as a wall-mounted air conditioning unit. This lack of circulation prevents drafts from entering the home, so when the thermostat is set at 65 it feels much warmer than that, Fillmore said.
Zero Energy homeowners save about $2,000 a year compared to those in regular homes, paying only about $160 a month to maintain them thanks to energy rebates from the state.
Fillmore first started looking into this type of construction about a decade ago, wanting to fill a niche in the construction market.
“When the recession hit, I said, ‘Now is the time for me to try this,’” Fillmore said.
His intent, he said, is to make sure these homes are more affordable. The Zero Energy home he finished building in Weare last month was $300,000, and it cost $30,000 to make the home as energy efficient as it is.
That’s partially due to the greater availability of the materials needed for this type of construction, which is something Fillmore said he’s working to educate more people about.
“Now you can go to any lumberyard and buy any materials you need to do this,” he said.
Fillmore’s company is one of a few in the state that helps with the design and construction of these homes. Others include Ridgeview Construction of Deerfield and Little Green Homes in Greenland.
Since 2008, the federal government has encouraged the construction of these homes through the Department of Energy’s Builders Challenge, which has recognized hundreds of builders, according to energy.gov. The department’s Housing Innovation Awards honors innovation in “Zero Energy Ready Homes” each year.
Since taking on this type of work, Fillmore said he’s noticed an increased desire in people looking to have these types of homes built and expects that trend to continue.
“In 20 years, it’s going to be required that houses are built like this in most states,” Fillmore said.