For the third consecutive month, and despite the 100-degree heat for the past few weeks, causing air conditioners to run virtually non-stop, one Mt. Carmel, Ill. residence has had no net electrical utility usage because it's a net-zero energy home, according to the Daily Republican Register.
The home, owned by Tom and Dorothy Dersch, have had to pay only a monthly meter charge and some state tax, totaling less than $10 per month for their 1,900-square-foot residence. It all began about four years ago when Tom Dersch became interested in energy-savings technology.
Tom is a principal of Mt. Carmel-based Dersch Energies, Inc., where he learned about solar power installations. Dersch has taken this knowledge, and has performed energy assessments of homes in the region, making recommendations for energy-savings and energy production through solar power.
In addition to consulting for others, Dersch has applied his know-how to his own home, implementing the recommendations typically given to others. The result — the smallest possible utility bills for his home.
According to Dersch, "Over the past few years, I suppose I've treated my personal residence as a 'playground' for implementing the recommendations our company typically makes to others. Many of the things done at my home are out of the way and unseen to the common person. Others, such as the solar power system installed on the roof of the front of my house this past year, are highly visible."
"Spending money for energy savings is an investment with significant potential reward. If electric utility rates continue to increase at only the same average rate as they have for the past 40 years, then for each $70 that one now spends monthly on electric utility bills, one can cumulatively expect to spend about $50,000 over the next 30 years consuming electricity. If the average home has a $210 per month electric utility bill, this means that the homeowner can potentially spend $150,000 toward electricity over 30 years. This is a lot of money to spend on something that, after 30 years, you have no physical asset to show for it. Given this, there is significant potential for reward to those who can reduce their net electrical utility usage."
"To perform an energy assessment at a home, we visit one's home 3 to 4 times, performing different levels of analysis each time there. We then produce a written report of our findings and recommendations. The homeowner is then free to implement the recommendations over time, as their budget permits. Homeowners often find that as time goes on, they have more and more money to spend, as a result of the savings realized from prior investments in energy savings," Dersch said.
"Solar power is quite amazing. Nothing is burned, nothing is emitted, there are no moving parts, there is no audible sound. Yet, clean, usable electricity is produced. Electricity produced from the sun seems much better for the environment, and potentially, for human health, than the conventional alternatives. What a gift from the Above, and what a testament this is to the ingenuity of mankind, solar power provides," Dersch said.
Dersch concedes that he doesn't expect net-zero utility usage at his residence for the entire year. "In the winter months, when the days are shorter, and the heating system is active, I readily anticipate having net electrical utility consumption. But, the 'production bank' of credits created from solar power production in the longer, sunnier summer months, should potentially help to average out some of these winter bills, too. In the end, we'll no doubt average paying well below what others locally pay for a lived-in residence the size of ours.
According to Dersch," a year-round, net-zero utility usage residence is possible for this area, and I look forward to helping someone achieve that, likely in conjunction with the design and construction of their new home.
In addition to being rewarded with low to non-existent utility bills, Dersch says that he and his wife have realized other benefits as well. "Our home is quieter now than before. Too, the temperature within different portions of our home is more even and constant than before."