Local Family Moves into 'Net Zero Home' in North Minneapolis

Updated: 01/30/2014 7:38 AM
Created: 01/29/2014 6:19 PM
By: Todd Wilson

Sarah Olson is grabbing the last few shirts left in a closet; it's moving day for her family. Her husband and three kids have outgrown their apartment.

"I'll have more space for me and the kids," she said.

Out the back door and down the step she goes. She heads to her car to pack another load. A short drive and she's pulling up in front of her new home.

This is no ordinary house. This humble abode is called a "Net Zero Home" and should generate as much power as it uses.

The house has two kinds of solar panels, one that supplies electricity and one that produces energy to heat the house. On the inside there's the mini-split system.

"It's a heat pump, so it takes the cold air from outside and then makes it hot and then runs in reverse in the summer time," she said.

And then there's an air exchange system.

"It's at 2 right now, and if we were to do any cooking or showering, bathing we could turn this fan up to number 3 and we would get extra ventilation," Olson said.

Plus the roof and walls have 3.5 times the insulation a normal house would have. The windows are triple pane.

The house was built by Habitat for Humanity. Students at the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture designed the house. Professor Dan Handeen supervised the students. 

"It's really fun for the students and for myself to see this project come from being on the computer screen all the way through," he said.

Olson says, most of all she is thankful.

"It's a true blessing," she said.  

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