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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

NHSaves Drive to Net-Zero Competition Winners

The second place winning home of the NHSaves Net-Zero Competition. Photos: Elizabeth and Mark Peterson

George Harvey

NHSaves is a partnership of the New Hampshire utilities, Eversource, Liberty Utilities, New Hampshire Electric Co-Op, and Unitil. Last year, it established the annual Drive to Net Zero competition to showcase especially high-performance homes, designed to achieve net-zero energy use, that have been built in New Hampshire.

NHSaves has announced the winners of its second annual Drive to Net Zero competition. The first prize went to Unity Homes, with Eversource as the utility partner, for a 3,570 square foot home in Newbury, New Hampshire, belonging to Janet Taft. Ted Benson, founder of Unity Homes and Bensonwood, both of Walpole, was the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony. He commented, “There is no reason that buildings today are not super-energy-efficient.” It is worth noting that those words apply to all buildings, regardless of size or price.

A home belonging to Mark and Elizabeth Peterson of Sutton placed second. It was built by Matthew O’Clair of Newbury, and Eversource was the utility partner. A home in Etna, belonging to Bruce and Wendy Williamson, won third place. It was built by Domus Custom Builders, which Bruce Williamson owns. Liberty Utilities was the utility partner.

The Petersons sent us a very nice description of the process they went through to get their award-winning home built. It illustrates Ted Benson’s comment well. Here is some of what they said.

“We decided to build an insulated concrete form (ICF) home due to the energy efficiency, durability, and low maintenance. Our home site is southeastern orientation to maximize solar energy. The lot is sandy with good drainage. We plan on landscaping the lot with permaculture design for sustainability and self-sufficiency.

The mechanics

“Mark contracted with Matt O’Clair, a local builder who had done many modular homes and SIP (structurally insulated panel) homes. We used Nudura ICF blocks from Atlantic Builders Supply Northeast Inc. Joe Harnois was instrumental with education about ICF building and design. We worked with Loewen Window Center for our Kohltech double glazed tilt and turn windows and Therma Tru outside doors. Insulation was blown in cellulose in the ceiling and in the walls in our wood-framed seasonal room from Quality Insulation. We have a 39-solar-panel, 11kW [photovoltaic] system on our metal roof from ReVision Energy. The house has an air exchange system. We have LED lighting inside and outside and Energy Star appliances.

“We decided to heat and cool our home in three ways, first with one MX23 Mitsubishi heat pump duckless splits with two head units that keep the house at an even temperature of 68 to 70 degrees F. Second, we put in hot water radiant floor heat, for when the temperature drops below zero, using a propane-fired Weil-McClain energy-efficient boiler which supplies two HTP SuperStor insulated hot water tanks, one 120-gallon [tank] for radiant heating and 60 gallons for domestic hot water. Third we designed the home to maximize passive solar with large double-glazed tilt-and-turn windows that allow plenty of light for heating and cooling in our home. All this combined with the ICF material has made our home very comfortable and highly energy efficient.

“The energy efficiency of our home is more than we expected achieving a HERs index rating of -22.”

We at Green Energy Times give our sincere congratulations to all.

Unity Homes website is Matt O’Clair’s web site is Domus Custom Builders site is The web page for the NHSaves competition is

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