Spring Green builder designs area’s first ‘net-zero’ home

Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 6:08 PM CST
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A Spring Green woman is building the first fully energy efficient home in her community with the goal of reducing her environmental footprint and energy bill.

Amber Westerman owns

and works to build and design smaller, more environmentally friendly places to live. She said the term ‘net-zero’ essentially means the solar panels on her home produce all the energy she needs to power it.

“So, if over the course of the year, if I average my use I can claim or say that I am net-zero. I’ve used as many kilowatt hours to heat, cool and light my house as I have produced with my own system,” she said.

Westerman said she also wanted to use materials that would reduce her carbon footprint. She explained she used thick insulation in order to use one electric heating system for the 1,200 square foot home.

She added the insulation is also made of 100 percent recycled newspaper.

“I have 24 solar panels and they are producing electricity whenever the sun is shining,” she said.

, a statewide program, helps homeowners and builders like Westerman implement and integrate energy efficient processes.

Andy Kuc, the Focus on Energy program manager for its new home certification offering, said only a handful of homes in Wisconsin have been considered truly net-zero within the program, but they are seeing an increase of people working toward that standard.

“The more energy efficient the home, the less money you spend on providing the energy to heat, operate and cool that home,” he said.

Westerman said she sees a bright future ahead for more sustainable living. She said she built the home with the hope to one day sell it so she can build more in the area.

“I think in the next ten years we are going to be seeing a lot more homes like this,” she said.

Westerman said she is going through the Focus on Energy certification process. Kuc said last year, more than 2,300 homes went through the program to meet higher standards of energy efficiency, and they currently work with around 200 builders across the state.

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