By Karen Brainard
Eric Webb, owner of Webb Construction, is so pleased with the outcome of his first Zero Net Energy (ZNE) house that he is building four more in Ramona.
"Basically this house produces as much energy as it uses," he said of the ZNE spec house he built on Indian Oaks Road off state Route 78.
Tested by a Home Energy Rating System company, the house's energy efficiency results were 48.5 percent better than required by the state of California under Title 24, said Webb. Title 24, he explained, is the energy code for the state, and a builder must meet or exceed the energy efficiency standard.
Within three weeks of listing the 1,900-square-foot house, he had a contracted buyer.
"I constructed this home with my typical customers' wants and needs in mind, while considering costs and affordability," said Webb, a Ramona resident since 1978 and a 1985 Ramona High graduate.
Webb noted that consumers are striving to lower utility bills, and one way to do that is through reduced consumption, which he said is better for the environment.
"By altering some of the building materials and construction components, we were able to create a much higher energy efficient home," he said.
That also enabled him to reduce the size of the solar electricity system to 7.5 kilowatts for additional cost savings.
If there is ever a power outage, a propane back-up generator will automatically turn on.
Among the altered building products that add to the energy efficiency are a heat pump water heater, two-by-six exterior walls for thicker insulation, blown-in ceiling insulation, triple pane windows with low E glass, ductless heat and air systems, and LED lighting. The kitchen features all Energy Star® appliances, which are the most efficient, Webb said.
Other highlights of the home include a wood stove that could heat the entire house, a thermostat and mini-split in each room to individually adjust the temperature, and travertine tile flooring, because tile floors are insulating, he said.
The house has a kitchen and family room, four bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths, and an 11-foot-high two -car garage.
"There's no wasted space in this house," said Webb.
The house previously on the property burned in the 2007 Witch fire, leaving only the cement steps from the driveway, and a pool in the backyard. Webb fashioned the layout of his house to work with the steps and the pool, which also has a rock waterfall. Webb said he believes $575,000 was a good buy for the five-acre property with the energy efficient house, pool and an outdoor kitchen.
The buyers, he said, are relocating from New Jersey. "It definitely attracted them once I showed all the components," he said.
The house is also served by a well, providing further savings. Between energy and water use, Webb estimated the owners will save $500 to $600 per month.
Webb said he decided to build a ZNE house because he was tired of building the same types of houses, and the new construction is good for the environment.
"It saves you money," he added.
He is building another ZNE house on Ash Street, two on Pile Street, and one on Heritage Ranch Road.
Webb, who specializes in custom homes, land development, additions and remodels, hires his sons, Tyler, 17, and Dylan, nearly 16, in the summers. Doing so, he said, teaches them how to work and what goes into building a home.