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Oldest Net-Zero House in America

The Environment Report has been following an effort to make a Michigan house the oldest net-zero house in America. That means in a year the home will produce as much energy or more than it uses. Lester Graham reports... the owners are at the point where they can reach that goal.

Matt and Kelly Grocoff bought an old house in a historic neighborhood in Ann Arbor a few years ago. Matt wanted to show that making an older home an energy efficient showcase made more sense than building new.  Kelly was just a little skeptical.

“When we first bought the house and Matt was talking about what he wanted to do and what some goals might be, part of me was sort of like yeah, yeah, you know. Matt’s a dreamer. He likes to think big. And it’s really happening.”

Find out how to assess your own home's energy efficiency.

On the day we were visiting this fall, the final major element was being installed… solar panels.

Matt says this is going to take the house from being super energy efficient—to actually producing more electricity than it uses.

“I actually read the other day, Newsweek had a quote, that solar panels will return 15-percent every year. Now, last time I checked savings accounts were zero-percent, CDs were 2.9-percent which is actually zero-percent after inflation, and the S & P 500 stock was under 3-percent. Investing in your own home is the best thing you can do right now especially in this economy.”

The Grocoffs say they’ve preserved an old home, honoring the past in a way that stops energy waste and contributing to global warming, their way of honoring the future.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.