Arizona Alternative: Zero Energy Home.(FRIDAY HOME GUIDE)(CLICKS &Amp; MORTAR)

Article excerpt

Byline: M. Anthony Carr, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Solar-powered and earth-bermed homes had all the trappings of the future when I was a child. Forty-plus years ago, there was talk, there were studies and there were journals extolling the 21st century as a time of alternative energy sources that were plentiful, clean and cheap.

Funny how we were supposed to have lots of cool stuff happen in the 21st century. So far, the coolest things that really affected my life have been the personal computer and the microwave, both of which were in wide use inter-20th century.

I still drive in a gas-guzzling car - no electric car on my horizon yet. I turn on the lights using electricity and incandescent bulbs - the same type and from the same company my parents used.

This Thanksgiving, I cooked the bird in a convection oven, overnight at about 250-degrees Fahrenheit. Notice I didn't even use the Celsius reading that we were supposed to be using across the land by now.

We can only hope that the latest venue of alternative energy homes being touted by the National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.org) will actually take root in the North American culture.

The Zero Energy Home (ZEH) opened this month in Tucson, Ariz., in the John Wesley Miller Cos. Armory Park del Sol community (www.armoryparkdelsol.com). This is a community of alternative energy homes that use an average of less than a dollar a day for heating and cooling. The project involves a partnership with Tucson Electric Power and Global Solar Energy. The community makes extensive use of active and passive solar systems.

At NAHB's Research Center Web site (www.nahbrc.org), acting President Terre Belt says, "The Energy Information Administration is forecasting higher residential heating bills this winter, and consumers are looking to build more energy-efficient homes. …