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Zero Net Energy Colonial Solar Panel Installation, Champaign

Installing solar PV (photovoltaic) panels on this 1929 colonial-style home in Champaign helped it become “zero net energy”, which means it produces at least as much power as it uses. The rest was accomplished through air-sealing and insulating, high-efficiency appliances and lighting, a geothermal system, and an electric vehicle.

During the hottest week of the summer (no kidding!), New Prairie worked alongside Professor Scott Willenbrock, one of the homeowners, to install solar panels on the roof of the house. He had already installed solar panels on his garage with the help of some friends and family. (We’ve included a photo of the garage-mounted panels, even though we weren’t involved in the installation.)

Prof. Willenbrock has documented the process of making his home zero net energy on his website, Zero Net Energy House. From the website: 

“This 1929 colonial-style house is typical of the houses built in Urbana – Champaign in its time. It was built with no insulation in the walls and only a thin layer of insulation in the attic and between the floors. It was originally heated by burning coal, but later switched to natural gas. At the time it was built, there was little concern about the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels, including the threat of climate change.” 

Since natural gas is a non-renewable resource, it is no longer used. The home is now all electric, powered by sunlight.

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