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Owning a 'green' home has many benefits

Owning a Zenergy house has benefits. Ric Romero checks out an L.A. area house that has all the answers to going 'green.'

March 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
One particular home in a Studio City neighborhood that blends into the neighborhood is fact very different than any of the other properties -- that's because it's a Zenergy home.Built in the 1950s, the one-story, three-bedroom home, has gotten a complete makeover.

Tammy Schwolsky and her family spent the past five years making the home environmentally responsible by using current proven technologies.

One of the biggest benefits to owning a Zenergy home is that there are virtually no energy bills.

"The cabinetry is all FSC-certified, with non-toxic adhesives, and phemaldehyde-free. We have recycled porcelain countertops, CFL lights," said Schwolsky. "We also have wallpaper that is 'green' and very inexpensive for a backsplash. So if you want to go green and cheaper, this is the way to go."

Just about everything is recycled or re-purposed.

"So what we have here is beautiful cork flooring which is mold- and mildew-resistant, temperature-resistant, so when you are getting out of the tub you won't have cold feet in the winter," said Schwolsky. "We have recycled glass tile and sustainable bamboo. We also have beautiful American Clay which is a natural plaster. And then we have the dual flush toilets which save so much water."

They also have drought tolerant plants and a catch basin for rain water. The Schwolskys use 70 percent less water than most families, even with a pool.

The Zenergy house also uses half the solar panels a home of this size would need.

"Once we did the energy efficiency upgrades we were able to buy a very small solar system, only 2.7 kilowatts," said Schwolsky. "That is really small for a house this size and we are able to net zero the house in terms of energy."

But the Zenergy house is not just for the Schwolsky home. It's actually a working lab for anyone who wants to learn more about being "green."