Columbia\'s first \"net-zero\" house welcomes its first family

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COLUMBIA - A family now lives in the city's first "net-zero" house on West Ash Street.

Dusti Mitchell is the new homeowner and said she likes seeing her energy bill every month.

"I'm paying next to nothing for my summer bills," Mitchell said. "Pretty much nothing."

That's because the city designed the house to sustain itself, meaning it should produce as much energy as it uses. 

But Columbia's Housing Program's Supervisor Randy Cole said, during the summer months, the house will produce more energy than it needs. 

"The house will bank credits whenever the solar panels are producing more energy than the house uses," Cole said. "In the summer months we're going to see a lot more solar production because the sun is out longer. So in the winter, when the house may be be using more energy to heat the home, hopefully those credits will help carry them through the winter."

The house features triple-pane windows, LED lights, and a solar-powered, multi-split heating and cooling system.

"It's really neat, because I can just heat or put AC on the room exactly the temperature that I want," Mitchell said.

She said the energy-saving features like the multi-split heating and cooling system are what first piqued her interest in the house.

"When I walked in, walked around, I saw this house and I'm like 'this is the best house, this is perfect house for me, I know it,'" Mitchell said.

She said her kids refer to their new house as the "cool house" and enjoy playing in the newly fenced yard.

Mitchell calls the net-zero home her "forever home."

The city of Columbia teamed up with Habitat for Humanity and Peoples' Visioning two summers ago to build the net-zero home.




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