Near-Zero Energy Homes Built in Appalachian Kentucky

Some families in Whitley County, KY can look forward to staying comfortable through the hot summer without paying high utility bills – or no utility bills at all. The Lexington Herald-Leader ran a story yesterday about a "passive house" project, which aims to have net zero energy use through a combination of efficient building practices and solar power. For folks who struggle to pay their bills each month, having one less to pay can make a huge difference. "We're going to be able to buy things we couldn't normally buy because of this," said one new homeowner quoted in the article.

The article points out that

It costs more to build to passive house standards than to conventional codes.

However, the investment pays off through lower energy bills, said Ginger Watkins, sustainable building specialist with Kentucky Habitat for Humanity….
 
Watkins said the electric bill last winter at a Habitat house in the Morehead area built with passive-house standards was $15 a month.

Whitley County is home to this project because its electricity is provided by the TVA, which buys the solar power the homeowners create through its innovative "Generation Partners" program. Most of Appalachia doesn't have that option. Even so, according to the article, "U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, who spoke at a dedication for the near zero-energy development in Whitley County last week, said the houses are a 'harbinger of the future.'"