A majority of the highly energy-efficient homes you see on Earthtechling’s pages cost more to build than the average new US home. Builders and architects of passive houses will tell you, however, that upgrading a plan to PH standards only adds 10 or 15 percent to the cost, if you’re careful—and over the years you’ll end up breaking even, or better, thanks to lower utility bills.
One Seattle couple wanted to go further than that. They wanted to show that you can build a net-zero-energy house (one that doesn’t look cheap) for well below the average construction cost per square foot. Their 1,915-square-foot home came in at $124 per square foot, or $114 after subtracting state and federal credits for the photovoltaics.