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Californian smart homes in the net-zero energy pilot are projected to reduce energy use by as much as 60%

In the US, a project led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will evaluate the energy use and grid integration of a new community of 20 net-zero energy houses in a bid to further reduce CO2 emissions and increase energy efficiency.

The project consortium, which includes Itron, Southern California Edison, the California Public Utilities Commission, Meritage Homes and BIRAenergy, will work with EPRI to assist the state of California to reach its goal of 100% net-zero new-build homes by 2020.

Households will be designed to generate the same amount of energy that they consume, but will still rely on the grid both to absorb excess solar generation during the day and deliver power at night.

Durning the next few year, the project team will evaluate how the pilot homes and their advanced technologies can be integrated into the central grid, as well as investigate ways to improve scalability and economic feasibility of net zero homes across the state.

Results from the project will help EPRI's work with utilities across the US to develop a more integrated power system.

Net-zero home technology

The new homes feature green technologies such as high-efficiency solar panels, HVAC systems, water heating equipment, heat pumps and integrated fresh air ventilation.

The properties, which range in size from 179.8 m²( 1,936 ft²) to 270.8 m² (2,915 ft²), also feature spray foam insulation, highly insulated windows, energy efficient lighting, smart chargers and smart appliances.

Ram Narayanamurthy, senior project manager at EPRI, said: "This project represents an ideal site and ideal team to evaluate the effectiveness of energy efficient housing, equipment and appliances.

"The data collected will likely guide future developments of zero-net energy housing in California and elsewhere, and how they integrate into the electric system."

The official opening ceremony will be held tomorrow at Meritage Sierra Crest community in the North Fontanta area of southern California to coincide with Earth Day.