California couple build net-zero home

Over the years, many homeowners across the United States have realized first hand that converting to a more sustainable lifestyle is a smart move – not only for the environment, but when it comes to saving money, too. One family in Hermosa Beach, California, however, has taken this way of life to the next level by retrofitting their house into a net-zero energy case study that can serve as inspiration to others who are thinking about investing in energy-efficient upgrades. 

According to Easy Reader, a local news source, Robert Fortunato and his wife, Monica, were able to expand their home from 1,300 square feet to 2,100 square feet and still use 75 percent less power. They installed solar panels and a thermal chimney, to name just a few of the green technology additions made to the property.

Fortunato explained to the source that some of the energy-efficient upgrades they invested in are simpler than people may expect, noting that they implemented techniques used by cave dwellers, such as facing a home south so that it could be naturally heated and cooled with the seasons. 

"Some of this stuff's ancient technology," Fortunato said.  "Everybody thinks it's got to look like a spaceship and be expensive…but we have a five foot overhang in front of the house and it faces southwest…it passively heats and cools the house, for free. We sort of lost our way and [have] forgotten that sort of technology."

The Fortunatos' efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Their residence, named The Green Idea House, has won a number of accolades, including the 2012 Green Leadership Award for L.A. County and the 2012 Environmental Leadership SEED Award.

Thanks to the state of Maryland's multiple rebate offerings, including those available from Pepco and Potomac Edison, it may be easier and more cost-effective than you think to make green technology upgrades to your property. To get started, contact a home inspection contractor to request an energy audit. These experienced professionals can help you determine the best way to get started.