Your future home could make electric bills a thing of the past, and even help you earn money in the process. Plus-energy homes are popping up around the world, generating more energy than they use, and can even be set up to sell excess energy back to the grid. Beautiful, energy efficient, and increasingly affordable, these dwellings are proving the viability of renewable energy over fossil fuel sources. We’ve rounded up eight plus-energy homes that can produce more energy than they need, with some so powerful that they can even light up the house next door.
Dramatically tilted toward the southeast, Snøhetta’s ZEB Pilot House is a plus-energy family house that produces enough surplus energy to power an electric car year-round. Located in Larvik, Norway, the 200-square-meter home serves as a demonstration project to facilitate learning and is powered by rooftop solar energy and geothermal energy.
Heralded as Australia’s “first carbon-positive prefab home,” the Carbon Positive House is a solar panel-topped house that produces more energy than it consumes. Designed by ArchiBlox, the airtight 800-square-foot house takes in generous amounts of natural light through a double-glazed facade and is topped by a green roof and vertical garden walls for insulation and shade. The interior is decked out in sustainably sourced, energy efficient, and non-toxic materials and fixtures.
The Heliotrope is a stunning energy-plus solar home in Freiburg, Germany that rotates 180 degrees to follow the sun’s path and maximize solar panel efficiency. A 6.6 kWH rooftop solar array helps the home achieve plus-energy status, while solar thermal tubing heats the home’s water and radiators. Designed by architect Ralph Disch, the rotating home can generate up to five times the energy it consumes and includes a greywater and rainwater recycling system, as well as a composting toilet.
Nathan Good Architects’ plus-energy Cannon Beach Residence offers more than just surplus renewable energy—the green-roofed home also boasts a spectacular view of the ocean. Situated on Cannon Beach, Oregon, the three-bedroom home generates its own energy using a combination of photovoltaics, solar hot water heaters, geothermal energy, energy heat recovery ventilators, and a high-efficiency heat pump.
The light-filled Home For Life dwelling is a striking contemporary home completed as one of eight experimental Active Houses financed by FKR Holding. The 2,045-square-foot two-bedroom house is filled with natural light and strategically placed to take in 50% of its winter heating from passive solar means. The ultra-efficient home includes a photovoltaic system, solar hot water system, heat pump, energy optimized windows, and an automatic natural ventilation system.
The architecture studio Werner Sobek Group designed the B10 Activhaus, an energy-positive home that produces enough clean energy to power not only itself and two electric cars, but also the house next door. The 914-square-foot home features a smart energy system that can be controlled remotely via a smartphone or tablet and is programmed to “learn” and adapt to the homeowner’s habits. The rooftop photovoltaic system produces around 8,300 kilowatt-hours of solar energy per year.
Plus energy architecture isn’t limited to freestanding homes. Interface Studio Architects designed the Roxbury E+ townhouses, a cluster of energy-positive attached homes in Boston, Massachusetts. The LEED Platinum-certified homes are each topped with 39 solar panels that can produce around 10,000 kilowatts a year. Thanks to energy-efficient construction, the amount of energy generated is far more than needed, and so homeowners have the opportunity to sell surplus power back to the city grid.
Lauded at Great Britain’s first affordable energy-positive house, the Solcer House sucks in enough solar energy that it can return excess energy to the grid eight months out of the year. Cardiff University’s Phil Jones and his team designed the three-bedroom home, which cost just over $195,000—less than the cost of an average home in most major metropolitan areas.