Meet the Super-Efficient Norwegian House Which Powers Itself And Your Electric Car Too

Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve thought for a long time that by changing the light bulbs in your home to energy-efficient LED ones, buying energy-efficient appliances, switching to time-of-use metering and turning off standby mode on things like televisions and computers when you’re not using them should save you enough energy that charging up an electric car every night at home won’t impact your electricity bill all that much.

It may look weird, but this home is super-efficient, and can even power your electric car

It may look weird, but this home is super-efficient, and can even power your electric car

But what if you could have a home that was so energy efficient that it generated enough energy every day to not only power your home and keep it warm, but allow you own and operate an electric car without ever paying for electricity ever again?

It sounds too good to be true, but one recently-erected house in Norway can do just that. No energy bills. Ever.

Enter the ZEB Pilot House, a brand-new construction in Ringdalskogen, Larvik, Norway. Designed by design company Snøhetta, the ZEB Pilot House — or ZEB Multi-Comfort House to give it its full name — is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the design firm and SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest research body, as well as pluming engineering specialists Brødrene Dahl and building supply chain Optimera.

At 200 square meters (2,152 square feet), the ZEB Pilot House isn’t exactly small by most standard, yet is so efficient it generates enough energy in a single year to enable its eventual residents to power an electric car from the excess energy produced by the house.

Here's how the home works.

Here’s how the home works.

As The HuffingtonPost details, the ZEB Pilot Home took around ten months to build and was designed and sited very carefully to ensure that as much solar energy could be harvested as possible to heat and power the home.

The roof, slanted at a 19-degree angle, is pitched just right for Norway’s latitude and faces southeast. Adorned with 150 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels and 16 square meters of solar thermal panels, the house collects a large proportion of the heat and electrical energy it needs to make life pleasant inside, while large windows let in as much light as possible.

There's even a swimming pool. Heated, of course.

There’s even a swimming pool. Heated, of course.

In total, Snøhetta says the home harvests around 19,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, more than enough for most energy-conscious homes to use, while the solar thermal collectors capture around 4,000 kilowatt-hours of heat energy for heating.

Further energy for heating is harvested from energy wells in the ground, maximising on Norway’s plentiful geothermal energy locked just beneath the earth’s surface.

The interior is light and airy

The interior is light and airy

The home doesn’t just harvest its own energy either: it uses super-efficient windows and a careful choice of building materials like traditional brick to help give the passive home enough of a large thermal mass to keep the insides warm in winter and cool in summer. In fact, with a family of four occupying it, the design team say just one radiator on each floor is sufficient to keep the home warm, even in the depths of a frigid Norwegian winter.

It’s so efficient in fact that excess heat from the indoor air is used to help heat incoming air form outside as well as raise the temperature of the tap water. Meanwhile, grey water recovery systems provide a continuous source of water for washing clothes and flushing toilets.

Is this the future of all eco homes?

Is this the future of all eco homes?

Of course, this isn’t the first zero-emission or carbon neutral home we’ve come across, but its striking design and super-energy efficiency shows an interesting view into a near future where our homes generate all the energy we need to live — and even commute to work too.

We can’t wait.


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  • BEP

    I wonder if this house can really be powered by solar energy alone through the whole winter. We have a combined natural gas/solar system for hot water and room heating, and in winter the sun can barely make the water lukewarm – in the best case (i.e. when the sky is clear).

    • Owen Iverson

      i don’t know about your config, but i’m guessing it’s not nearly as engineered as this house. from the optimal facing of the sun, to the high performance windows (probably some kind of triple paned argon job) and even the large thermal mass, this house is made to eek out every little bit energy and give up as little as possible. i would imagine with that kind of planning, it would def survive the nordic winters.

      • MEroller

        Large parts of Norway have little to no sunlight at all during the Winter, so BEP’s musings are very valid!

        • KIMS

          It is possible that the “swimming pool” or similar are used to store thermal energy during the summer months for use during the winter months. You are correct that the solar input during winter months on its own is not sufficient for heat, but, with properly designed thermal storage accumulators it is possible to do so.

      • BEP

        Yesterday a self-sufficient building with 9 apartments near Zu00fcrich was announced. It will be ready spring 2016. It is not connected to the grid and it uses batteries for short-term storage (3-4 days). Additionally, it produces hydrogen during summer to produce electricity (with fuel cells) in winter. It is covered with solar panels and in Zu00fcrich there is more sun than in Norway, however it could not do it without storage.nArticle (in German):