New government facility is a model of home energy efficiency

As part of President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a new laboratory has been constructed in Washington, D.C. that looks like your average home on the outside, but inside hosts a bevy of experimental technology.

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) built the model home to demonstrate to builders that new houses can be constructed that produce as much energy as they consume.

The house was designated the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility by the NIST, as it relies solely on its own devices to produce electricity and heat and is fully unreliant of the national power grid.

"Results from this lab will show if net-zero home design and technologies are ready for a neighborhood near you," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher said in a press release.

The house was a collaborative effort between the Commerce Department and the Department of Energy, who provided architectural input for the project. Additionally, the facility was built using locally sourced materials, demonstrating energy efficiency in the construction phase.

The home will not be occupied by actual humans, but will instead be controlled by computers that will turn on appliances and lights within the house to simulate the habits of an average American family.

For houses inhabited by real families, a home inspection can help identify where residents could control waste. An energy audit can guide homeowners in the right direction to lessen their burden on the power grid and lower their monthly utility bills.