Our Renewable Nation releases its Solar Decathlon video
Submitted by Colin McCullough
Our newest video, ORN#4 Solar Decathlon 2009 is published on YouTube:
The video series is also on iTunes:
We visited the Solar Decathlon in October down in Washington DC; it's a competition of homes from universities all over the world that are completely powered by the sun. The homes are assembled on the National Mall for 2 weeks and are open to the public to show just what's possible. When built specifically with renewable energy and energy efficiency in the design, there are amazing possibilities for zero energy homes. For example:
-Team Germany's house is almost completely covered in solar panels, both traditional PV and new thin-film panels on the siding of the house, which generates several times more electricity than the house uses (selling the rest back to the electric company!).
-The University of Illinois house is so energy efficient that it could be heated with a single hair dryer.
-Team Spain's house features the first-of-it?s-kind tracking solar roof that follows the sun throughout the day.
-Team California's house has computerized lighting, heating, and cooling controls that can all be changed on-the-go using an IPhone.
As you'll see in the video, these are very high-tech houses featuring solar technology for electricity and heating, super-insulation, passive solar heating with south-facing windows, etc. The Solar Decathlon houses stand in strong contrast to the very low-tech zero-energy homes we visited in Taos, New Mexico, called Earthships. Very different approaches to building! Stay tuned for our upcoming video about Earthships!
There were 20 houses at the Solar Decathlon and we filmed each one, but in this video we covered 5 of the most interesting and high-scoring houses. I want to put together a few more videos that cover the other houses but that would take weeks, and I want to move on to the other exciting videos that are next in line. Maybe once the video series is finished I?ll return to these remaining Solar Decathlon houses and make some ORN web extras. In the meantime, you can visit the Decathlon website, which has plenty of information about all 20 houses, plus lots of pictures and videos of the competition:
In the 2009 Solar Decathlon, there was a focus on how much it would cost to build these houses. For example, Team Germany's house cost roughly $750,000 to build (it features some very cutting-edge technologies). Some things to consider about the costs though:
1. You'd never have an electric bill or heating bill again.
2. You could get paid for the excess electricity you produce.
3. State and federal credits can make solar technology much more affordable.
4. These are prototype homes; if they were mass-produced the cost would be much lower.
We hope you enjoy our latest video! As always, feel free to leave comments on YouTube and rate the videos.