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USA: Getting off the grid

This net zero home in Bulverde has a solar array, geothermal system and rainwater harvesting. It was built by Darrel McMaster of Sustainable Homes of Texas for Larry and Debbie Fulton. The home generates enough power for Larry Fulton’s Nissan Leaf, as well as for the entire house. There is a charging station in the garage.

Some people want to build green for the environment.

Others build green for the green.

Larry and Debbie Fulton fall into the second category. After an exhaustive amount of number crunching, the couple ended up with an energy-efficient, energy-producing home that is as easy on their finances as it is on the planet.

“We wanted it to make sense,” said Larry Fulton. “We wanted to approach it from a standpoint of return on investment.”

Their home on 5 acres in Bulverde has a geothermal system for their heating, ventilation and air conditioning, along with enough solar panels to power their home and electric car, a Nissan Leaf.

The Fulton’s also have a rainwater-harvesting system and 40,000-gallon collection tank, providing them more than enough water for the home and landscaping.

It’s a so-called “net-zero” home, producing more energy than it requires, and should allow the Fultons to forego monthly utility bills (and gas bills for their car) indefinitely.

The Fulton’s builder, Darrel McMaster of Sustainable Homes of Texas, said hardly anyone has wanted to build green simply so they can feel good about living lightly on the planet.

“Very few people are approaching this as a pure environmentalist,” McMaster said. “It’s as economists.”


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