Energy-efficient, solar homes tend to be brand-new architectural gems powered with the latest — and priciest — technology. But a couple who bought a century-old fixer-upper on Capitol Hill in 2013 are proving you don’t have to be rich to embark on a “net-zero” quest.
A net-zero home is one that produces all of its own clean and renewable energy. They tend to be new construction or gut remodeling projects because it’s easier to get to net zero by building super-insulated spaces that don’t require much to heat and cool, then add top-of-the-line geothermal heating systems, heat pumps, solar panels and other “green bling” to operate them as efficiently as possible.
Patrick Hughes and Amy Sticklor began their do-it-yourself approach in fall 2013, shortly after purchasing their first home in Washington’s Atlas District. Instead of replacing big-ticket items such as the aging furnace and boiler (both of which still have a few years of service left in them), they slashed their energy usage in half with less than $500 in insulation, new lighting and other equipment available at the average hardware store or online.
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