The Oldest Green Home in America

Identifying the oldest green home in America is not as simple a process as you might imagine. This is largely due to the fact that the definition of a “green home” varies greatly, and many homes boast some sort of green designed features in one way or another.  Finding an intersection between all of these different ideas can be quite difficult.

To successfully determine the nation’s oldest green home it is necessary to arbitrarily select a standard of “green” on which to judge homes. HowStuffWorks, for the purposes of this exercise, chose to measure the amount of energy a home uses.

The victor is a 110-year-old Victorian-era home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which easily wins this contest because instead of consuming energy, this home produces energy.

Kelly and Matt Grocoff own the home. When they purchased the Victorian-era house, it had many of the features of any home from that era: little to no insulation, leaky windows, and old building materials that were less efficient. The Grocoffs could have easily made just a livable home, but instead they chose to make modifications to ensure that the home consumes a net of zero electricity—meaning it actually produces its own energy and sends whatever it doesn’t use back to the electric grid.

How did they do it? They started with very simple things like upgrading their insulation, installing energy-efficient storm windows, and updating all light bulbs with CFLs. They also added energy-efficient appliances and made sure that their water fixtures use less water than usual, resulting in energy savings.

To begin producing energy, the Grocoffs had three geothermal wells drilled and installed on their property, as well as a solar panel array installed on their roof.

The Grocoffs’ green home makes for a great story and an impressive claim that their home is the first of its kind: the first net-zero energy consumption home in Michigan and one of the first net-zero homes that has ever been documented.

The Grocoffs’ amazing success story shows us that it is possible to make energy savings pay off for you in a big way and that the little savings really can add up. If you feel like your home’s energy problems are too big to overcome, just remember how the Grocoffs took a 110-year-old energy-gobbling home and turned it into an energy-efficient powerhouse.

Looking for a place to start with an energy efficiency project at home? Visit our blog post about what makes a home energy efficientfor some inspiration!