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Couple Creates Comfortable Net-Zero Home With Help From Vermod

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The McLaughlins on the front porch of their new home
Photo credit: Jenevra Wetmore

Source: Jenevra Wetmore, EAN/Middlebury College Internship Program

Downsizing to the Ideal Size and Location

When Andrew and Karuna McLaughlin decided to move from New York to Vermont they looked into buying a house near where their grandchildren lived. Unable to find the perfect fit, they instead decided to build their ideal house; one that would use as little energy as possible generate all of its own electricity.  They achieved this with help from Vermod, a maker of high performance modular homes.

Vermod worked with the McLaughlins to design a custom, net-zero house. The couple chose Vermod because, Andrew explained, "Vermod is aiming at low-cost energy efficiency housing, and we want to support that business".

Highlights of the McLaughlin’s Vermod Home

  • Triple-pane windows and heavy-duty insulation in walls, ceiling, and floor.
  • CERV (conditioning energy recovery ventilator), which circulates air and monitors humidity, carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds.
  • Heating and air conditioning from CERV and, when needed, cold climate heat pump.
  • A 7 kW solar array on the roof generates all of the house's electricity.

Additionally, the house uses a heat pump that gathers warmth from the utility room for hot water, and all appliances are highly energy efficient.  

A Success Story - Great for the Wallet AND the Environment

The McLaughlins moved into their home in November of 2015. They spent an estimated up-front cost of $160,000 on their new home, including the solar panels.  However, their utility bills have been significantly reduced since their electricity is powered by solar– most appliances in the home, and their heating system, are electric. Their solar panel investment was eligible for the 30% Federal tax credit and, according to Andrew, “right now we’re generating more electricity than were using.”

Efficiency Vermont rated the home and found that it qualified for the highest green building standard of Five Stars Plus. In addition to this high rating, Karuna gives the house a five-star rating for comfort, commenting that it is nice “having an even temperature all year long."  The McLaughlins moved into the home in November and were pleased with how warm it was. This warmth is in part due to the thick insulation in the walls which has another added bonus that Karuna likes– wide window sills. The energy savings paired with comfort make the house a success story for the McLaughlins and for the environment.