New Brunswick

For $695,750: A house that makes more energy than it consumes

New Brunswick's first certified net zero home was unveiled this year and is now on the market for $695,750.

3-bedroom house in Quispamsis powers itself with 44 roof-mounted solar panels

This house in Quispamsis, near Saint John, is designed to generate more electricity than it consumes on average throughout the year. (Jericho Knopp)

Eco-conscious prospective homeowners in the Saint John area might stumble upon the perfect pad in Quispamsis, if they are willing to shell out a little more than the cost of an average home.

New Brunswick's first certified net zero home was unveiled earlier this year and is now on the market for $695,750. 

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-storey home uses a combination of energy-saving building techniques and roof mounted solar panels to produce, on average, as much energy as it consumes.

More often than not, it's even sending extra energy back to NB Power. 

The house is the province's first net zero home to be certified by both the federal government and the Canadian Home Builders' Association.

Energy-saving construction

The house is powered by 44 solar panels on the south-facing roof. (Jericho Knopp)
Some of the energy-saving features include triple-glazed windows, which keep in more heat than double-glazed windows, a low-flow velocity heat pump system, a heat pump hot-water tank, and a battery that charges from the extra electricity and kicks in when there is a power outage. 

The walls are made from ICF, or insulated concrete form blocks, which insulate the home better than a wooden or brick frame. Everything in the home is designed to use as little energy as possible.

The energy that the house does need comes from 44 solar panels installed on the south facing roof. These panels provide enough energy to power the house throughout a typical day, and the extra energy goes to NB Power, which gives credits to the homeowner.

The homeowner can then use those credits to borrow electricity in times that the solar panels are not operating at full capacity, whether it is cloudy, nighttime or snowing. 

'You have more options'

Brad McLaughlin is the general manager of MCL Construction Ltd., which built the net zero house. (Jericho Knopp)
The project was a labour of love for MCL Construction general manager Brad McLaughlin, who took the reins on this building and lives in a highly rated (although not net zero yet) home himself.
    
"I don't necessarily like to pay the operating costs of a home if I don't necessarily have to," he said, "so if you're able to invest a little up front to help offset some of the energy consumption, you have more options to do something with that money."

MCL built this home not just to sell it, but also as an educational tool for the public to show that net zero homes can be both doable and fashionable.

The nearly $700,000 price tag is higher than the average home in the area and more than $100,000 higher than a neighbour's assessment.

But McLaughlin estimated that the new owners will see significant savings on their power bills.

$500 a month versus $80 

With a "code home" of this size, or one built to minimum building standards, "you'd probably be in the $500 a month range, plus or minus," he said.

"This home, because you pay hook-up fees and HST on power you have to borrow, you're probably looking at $80 a month, maybe."

Now that this home is complete, McLaughlin said he hopes to build more net-zero homes in the area and retrofit old homes.
Eco-conscious prospective homeowners in the Saint John area might stumble upon the perfect pad in Quispamsis, if they are willing to shell out a little more than the cost of an average home. 1:58