Home-builder Bill Decker explains some of the techniques used to create highly energy-efficient homes in chilly southeast Michigan. New research shows that the extra cost of making a home net-zero energy can pay for itself in under a decade in Detroit and 11.4 years in Chicago. Credit: Dan Gearino LAMBERTVILLE, Mich.—On a drive down a country road, builder Bill Decker gives an off-the-cuff seminar about energy efficient homes. He shifts from carpentry to electrical engineering, and then to theology—his belief that his faith compels him to take care of the earth. Every few minutes, he pauses and points out a house his family-owned company has built. He has been in business since 1981 and only now is his industry beginning to grasp something he has been arguing for a while: Net-zero-energy homes—homes that are so efficient a few rooftop solar panels can produce all the electricity the home needs—can be built almost anywhere, even in places with brutal winters. Our stories. Your inbox. Every weekend. His case is bolstered by a recent report from the Rocky Mountain Institute showing net-zero energy houses can make financial sense in much of the Midwest as costs for some of the key components […]

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