Residential New Construction Meets Net-Zero

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Net-zero homeowners achieve $1.42 utility bill for two months of power.
The Schmeltzer home in Weaverville, N.C., achieved a HERS score of -10, thanks in part to HVAC technology from Mitsubishi Electric. Photo: Ryan Theede

The Schmeltzer home in Weaverville, N.C., achieved a HERS score of -10, thanks in part to HVAC technology from Mitsubishi Electric. Photo: Ryan Theede

After living in a 2,400-square-foot home with a big backyard for more than a decade, Sally and Jason Schmeltzer made the commitment to create a home life that was more conscientious and less dependent on fossil fuels. After much building-science research, they set their sights on building a new, net-zero energy home.

To reach their goal, the Schmeltzers sought to identify the most efficient mechanical systems, including HVAC equipment. After consulting with their builder and Mitsubishi Electric’s Performance Construction Team, Jason and Sally agreed, Zoned Comfort Solutions® were the right fit for their new home.

Efficiency and Aesthetics

As a first step, the Schmeltzers bought a lot in Weaverville, North Carolina with ideal southern exposure and partnered with Raymond Thompson, owner of Sure Foot Builders (Sure Foot). Established in 2007, Sure Foot is a local high-performance builder that shared the couple’s vision, especially when it came to mechanical system selection. 

While owners typically think more about aesthetic choices when building a new home, the building envelope and mechanical system selection are critical to ensuring a home’s performance, comfort and indoor air quality. Like many homeowners, the Schmeltzers were used to a ducted, natural gas furnace. Thompson suggested they explore more efficient, healthier options and sent them to one of Mitsubishi Electric’s Lunch & Learn programs to better understand variable-capacity, split-ductless systems.

Sally and Jason Schmeltzer home Mitsubishi Electric
The Schmeltzer home uses four MSZ Wall-mounted Indoor Units to heat and cool the 1,750-square-foot-home. Photo: Ryan Theede

“During the program, we were introduced to Rob Howard of Mitsubishi Electric’s Performance Construction Team,” said Sally. “He was able to explain everything to me. Initially, I was concerned about the wall-hung unit style…it didn’t look like what I expected. But when I learned about the technology and how efficient it is, I had to agree: the wall-mounted unit is beautiful. It’s 50% more efficient than the next best thing. Why wouldn’t I want that? In addition, they’re pretty sleek looking. We told Raymond right then we wanted to go with Zoned Comfort Solutions.”

Feeding the Grid

Ultimately, four MSZ Wall-mounted Indoor Units were specified, each connecting to a corresponding outdoor compressor for the 1.5 story, 1,750 square-foot-home. The Schmeltzers also added solar panels to offset their energy usage. The result: a HERS score of -10 and outstanding energy savings!

RELATED: A 1920s-era home undergoes a major energy-efficient transformation with mini-splits.

“We officially moved into the house in October 2018 and started monitoring our energy usage and generation then,” said Sally. “For the month of February 2019, we produced about 600 kWh of energy; for the month of April, we produced 940 kWh. When we received our March/April utility bill we nearly broke even — we paid $1.42 for two months of power. Come summer, we expect to overproduce and get a credit with the utility company.”

To read the full Case Study, click here.