The First Now House

The Retrofit Process: Solar


Now House produces energy onsite from a renewable source—the sun

To become a near zero energy home, Now House must not only be very energy efficient it must also produce energy.

Just like a typical home, Now House will be connected to and use energy from the electrical utility. However, unlike typical homes, Now House will produce energy to send to the utility company.

Annually, zero energy homes produce enough energy to offset the amount purchased from the utility provider, resulting in a net zero energy bill. This is the ambition of the Now House retrofit.

Install solar photovoltaic panels

Solar photovoltaic panels (16) were installed on the Now House to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar power is a renewable form of energy that produces no pollution or emissions. Thanks to our sponsor Day4Energy for providing our solar panels. And thanks to EnWise for sourcing this opportunity for Now House.

Now House will use a grid-connected solar power system. The solar array is connected to a synchronous inverter that converts electricity to alternate current that can then be used by the grid. In this case, all PV power will be fed into the grid for use by other utility customers, and under the OPA microFit program, the Now House homeowner will earn 80 cents per kilowatt-hour of production.

Install solar thermal system

Now House will also use the sun to heat water and reduce the need for gas or electricity to heat water. The Apricus systems will provide hot water for domestic use and for radiant floor heating system in the basement floor.

Thanks to our sponsor Generation PV, we will enjoy the benefit of two Apricus solar thermal systems. These are high efficiency, low cost solar hot water systems that work all year round. Unlike flat-plate collectors, or evacuated tubes with flat copper foil, the Apricus System uses a cylindrical collector which takes advantage of the sun all day, not just when itís overhead.

The Retrofit Process

To achieve our goal of a near zero energy retrofit we made the following changes to this home. As all existing houses have a unique set of conditions and characteristics, the application of the Now House process to another house would produce different design specifications. What follows is not a prescription for the near zero retrofit of all homes.