The latest generation of green Danish homes go beyond net-zero–i.e., producing as much energy as they consume–to grid positive, meaning they can generate enough energy to cover their own needs and sell power back to the grid. Is this our distributed power future?
The Danish Home for Life prototype looks, in many ways, like an ordinary, modern home. But integrated into the design of this building are photovoltaic solar panels, heat pumps, triple glazed windows with thermal properties and automated blinds, allowing a powerful sensor system (in communication with an outside weather station) to maintain steady indoor temperatures no matter what Mother Nature may bring. According to VKR Holding, the designers behind Home for Life, the residence ought to use about 60 percent of the energy of a traditional single-family house in Denmark: 15 kWh per square meter per year for lighting, household appliances, and running the active components of the house and 32 kWh/m² per year for hot water and heating. Heating consumption is where this home really shines, using just half that of an ordinary Danish home.
If all of this high-tech automation sounds expensive, it is: $700,000 is what it costs to build. RedFerret points out that while this is a big number, it’s not astronomical, and the designers say that this house can pay for itself inside of 40 years (perhaps that’s why they decided to call it Home for Life). Still, as the cost to fuel equation shifts, and the benefits of distributed power become more apparent to state and local agencies, a house that generates a surplus of about 9 kWh/m² per year might begin to look a lot more cost effective.