Truro home shows off its energy efficiency

Rich Eldred

Imagine no concerns about heating oil prices, electric rates or power outages.

One at 2 Corn Hill Road can forget about such plebian concerns and on Saturday the home will be open to the public. The home is part of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s Green Buildings Open House, which is featuring 26 open houses on Cape Cod.

ZeroEnergy Design designed the Truro home, which is energy neutral. Adam Prince, the business development principal for ZED, works out of a home office in Eastham. The main office is in Charlestown.

“This is truly unique,” Prince declared. “It will produce as much energy as it will consume over the course of a year, and it will maintain air quality at the same time.”

Air quality may not seem like much of an issue but when you have an airtight highly insulated home in order to be energy efficient, it is.

“It has a heat recovery ventilator that brings in fresh outdoor air and carries air out as it’s exhausted,” Prince explained. “The materials we chose have no off-gassing from glues or toxic materials. The insulation has no formaldehyde in it. There is foam insulation in the outside walls and the internal walls have fiberglass insulation for soundproofing between the rooms. Typical fiberglass has formaldehyde.”

So the insulation/heating system provides fresh air while avoiding toxic fumes of the sort that plagued the FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina.

The house was designed from scratch to conserve energy, which made is easier to incorporate state of the art technology, but not every opportunity availed itself.

“We would have loved to have it face south but because the sunset views were to the west (over Cape Cod Bay), the view won out,” Prince admitted.

A south-facing home would have been able to capitalize on big windows producing passive solar heating. The home does have an array of solar panels on the roof, installed by NexAmp.

“We create an energy model used to forecast the total energy use of the house on an annual basis,” explained Prince. “Then we take the photovoltaic system and use it to offset that use.”

The house sports a battery system to store energy when it’s sunny, that can power the house at night. If the power goes out, the home can be run without a gas-powered generator.

“There are only two uses of fossil fuels in the house: one is the stove, which is gas, which the owner wanted, and the other is a decorative fireplace,” Prince pointed out.