America's Oldest & Michigan's First Net Zero Energy Home (Photos)

photo americas oldest michigans first net zero home ann arbor

The home this week, fitted with solar panels. All photos via Matt Grocoff/Greenovation TV

If you want a super, energy-efficient home, you have to build new, right? Not necessarily. A 110-year-old Victorian home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is being touted as America's oldest net-zero energy house, and the first of its kind in the state.
Matt and Kelly Grocoff, who founded Greenovation TV, won approval from the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission to install solar panels on the house, located in the city's Old West Side Historic neighborhood.

photo net zero ann arbor 1913
The same home, circa 1913

The panels went up on Thursday. The solar array will allow the house to become a net-zero structure, producing more energy than it consumes, the Grocoffs say.

Previous renovations have included new lights, insulation, restored windows, new storm windows, geothermal heating and cooling, and Energy Star appliances.

Storm windows with Low-E glass

"We've reduced our energy load by 70% and now our solar panels will provide all the power we need and leave enough to power an electric car for 10,000 miles per year," Matt Grocoff said in an e-mail.

"In fact, we will be receiving checks from our utility company. We're proving it's possible and hope to encourage others to invest in improving their homes."

Greenovation TV has more info on the house, and USA Today also has done a write-up.

Prepping for solar panels

Talk about practicing what you preach. What if more people thought about preservation, and renovation, instead of building new, on greenfields? Just a thought. The Grocoffs plan to broadcast their energy use and creation on the Greenovation website, too.

The rooftop solar system is expected to generate about 12.5 megawatt hours per year, with help from microinverters. In total, the cost of going net zero was $47,130, including geothermal, insulation and the other upgrades, Matt Grocoff says.

He estimates that energy efficiency and solar improvements to the old home will eliminate $77,400 in energy costs over 20 years and allow his family receive over $27,000 in renewable energy credits from DTE Energy—a $104,000 return. See the home's "About" page for the money details.


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