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.

Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Smart Home

Amazon rejoins the fight against HIV/AIDS with a (Red) second-gen Echo

Now you can rock out to U2 and give to a good cause by buying Amazon's red Echo, a limited edition of the smart speaker that also donates money to the humanitarian organization Project (Red), founded by Bono.
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

How to stream music from Google Home to Bluetooth speakers or headphones

Want to stream music on Google Home, but listen to it through a different speaker or a pair of headphones? Here's how to play streaming music on Google Home through Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.

These Black Friday furniture deals offer up to 80 percent off

Retailers across all industries use Black Friday to offer incredible deals on everything from kitchen appliances, to full bedroom sets. As such, it’s the ideal time to upgrade your space with pieces that will make you feel more…
Smart Home

These holiday gadgets will make cooking your meal a breeze

Are you dreading the lengthy process of cooking a holiday dinner? Try these holiday gadgets to make the job of cooking much easier. These items will make for an easy, breezy meal.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Clean with a robot vacuum and save $160 on the Ecovacs Deebot, today only

Investing in smart home technology can usually come with a hefty price tag. If you were thinking of getting a robot vacuum, now is your chance. The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is one of our favorite budget-friendly robot vacuums and is currently on…

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…