Skip to main content

Bye, bye bills! Harvard’s HouseZero produces more energy than it consumes

housezero project harvard harvardhousezero
Harvard Center for Green Cities and Buildings
Anyone who has ever gotten an unexpectedly large heating bill will likely be interested to hear about Harvard University’s ambitious HouseZero project currently taking place in Cambridge, Massachusetts: To create a sustainable building that produces more energy than it consumes.

That may sound impressive enough on its own, but clear your mind of the kind of futuristic architecture that would be more at home as the dazzling headquarters of a Silicon Valley tech giant. Instead, what researchers from Harvard, architectural firm Snohetta and Skanska Technology have done is to retrofit a stick-frame pre-1940s house — which will serve as the new energy-efficient home of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

The idea is to demonstrate a transferable model of retrofitting that could be applied to the 14 million-plus residential houses of its type that currently exist in the United States. This stands in contrast to conventional thinking that similar levels of energy efficiency can only be developed as part of a new construction.

The so-called HouseZero project boasts a variety of nifty features. These include reducing the need for electric lighting by creating new, enlarged windows and skylights, designed to protect interior spaces from direct sun in the summer, while also encouraging winter sun. This means minimal cooling necessary in the hot summer months, while minimal heating is required in the cold winter months. Air quality and comfort levels in the house are permanently monitored, with ventilation controlled via smart algorithms and room sensors that are responsible for opening and shutting windows. Then there’s a glazed, solar chimney designed to generate thermal uplift to draw heat from the basement into the main living areas. In addition, expect energy generated by photovoltaic panels and then stored for use — with surplus energy fed back into the city’s power grid.

In terms of materials and design, the house consists of open-plan areas, glass partitions, and lots of exposed wooden beams; which will all contribute to a quiet, undisturbed living experience. Sure, you might feel a bit like you are living in an Apple store at times, but the lack of bills will presumably make up for it!

Should all continue to go to plan, expect more houses like this to pop up around the United States in the not-too-distant future.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Razer’s best gaming chair is $100 off for a limited time
Razer Enki Gaming Chair.

Serious gamers will want to purchase a top-of-the-line gaming chair so that they will stay comfortable no matter how long their sessions last. Here's an offer that you wouldn't want to miss -- the Razer Enki Pro gaming chair for $899, after Razer's $100 discount on its original price of $999. It's arguably among the best gaming chairs not just from the brand, but across all your options in the market right now, so you'll want to take advantage of the fact that it's 10% off while the bargain is still online.

Why you should buy the Razer Enki Pro gaming chair
Razer, which is known for high-quality gaming hardware and accessories like the Razer Blade 17 gaming laptop and the Razer DeathAdder V3 Pro gaming mouse, knocks it out of the park with the Razer Enki Pro. If you've been sitting on an uncomfortable chair or a basic gaming chair while you're playing the best games of all time, your investment to upgrade to the Razer Enki Pro will definitely be worth it because of the extreme comfort that it will provide. First and foremost, it's wrapped with plush, soft touch Alcantara material plus smooth leatherette on the outer edges, for a premium feel that won't easily succumb to daily wear and tear. The gaming chair also comes with a dual-density cushioned backrest and a magnetic memory foam head cushion for solid support.

Read more
Best Prime Day deals: What to expect on Prime Day 2023
Best Prime Day 2022 Deals graphic with multiple products.

Doesn't Prime Day feel like it comes around sooner every year? Kind of like Christmas but for anyone who's hunting around for deals, we're huge fans of Amazon's Prime Day event. It's often one of the best times of year to score a great deal on some very highly sought after products. If you've somehow missed all the fuss in recent years, or you simply need a refresher on the event, we're here to help. Below, we've explained exactly what is Prime Day (you're going to love it), when the event is likely to be, and what to expect too. If you're wondering if other retailers are getting in on the act and everything else you need to know, we've got you covered. Keep reading and remember to be excited -- it's going to be a good one.
What is Prime Day?
Prime Day is Amazon's biggest sales event of the year. It also tends to be the biggest sales period outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The event started back in 2015 to celebrate Amazon's 20th birthday. Since then, it's gone from strength to strength with hundreds of millions of products sold during the event. Originally, it started out as a one-day sales event but it now encompasses two days so there are plenty of opportunities to save big.

Read more
Usually $450, this Dyson cordless vacuum is $250 right now
Dyson V8 cordless vacuum.

If you're looking for cordless vacuum deals, you've just stumbled onto a gold mine. Walmart is discounting this Dyson V8 Origin Plus cordless vacuum by $170, bringing it down to $250. Dyson is the gold standard in vacuums, so this is a great deal. The price of this deal has been fluctuating between $250 and $280 since Memorial Day, so buy it today to get the best price.

Why you should buy the Dyson V8 Origin Plus cordless vacuum
The Dyson V8 Origin Plus, a variant of the Dyson V8 Absolute, isn't the latest model in the brand's line of cordless vacuums, but it's still a worthwhile investment because it will make cleaning your home much easier. Its powerful suction combines with the de-tangling Motorbar cleaner head to be able to pick up dirt and debris from carpets and hard floors, while hair removal vanes will clear pet hair from the brush bar. The cordless vacuum also comes with a crevice tool that will let you reach tight spaces, and a combination tool featuring a wide nozzle and a brush that lets you quickly switch between cleaning and dusting.

Read more