What comes to mind when you think of Boston, Massachusetts? I mean today, this early March day of 2015?

Yup, of course: snow, snow and more snow! One Boston-based entrepreneur is even selling snow!

Many of us wonder, is this historic snowfall – the 100-plus inches of snow that fell in Boston these past two months – related to climate change? Probably so. Weather patterns are dramatically changing in many places around the globe. Luckily there are people who are taking steps to mitigate their impact on Earth’s climate.

Take Dave and Karen Miller, for example, a couple living in Newton, Massachusetts. They are cozily ensconced in their net-zero home. That’s right. Net zero … meaning their home uses no more energy than is produced by its renewable energy systems.

The Millers are strong advocates of clean energy. In fact, Dave Miller is director of Clean Energy Venture Group whose mission is “to invest in and support early-stage clean energy companies that have the potential to mitigate climate change and achieve attractive financial returns.” 

The impressive energy efficiency of the Miller’s home is made possible by many features:

  • A south-facing roof with 9kW of Sunpower solar panels
    • This generates enough energy in the summer to power the energy demands of the house over the entire year.
  • A rooftop solar thermal system for heating all their hot water
  • Air source heat pumps
    • These heat pumps use just one-third of the electricity that traditional baseboard heaters do.
  • 12-inch thick walls
  • Highly insulated windows

In an interview with ABC’s Boston station, WCVB, Karen Miller talks about the comfortable climate of this home, how the temperature is more evenly distributed than in their old home which had cold and warm spots.

Says Dave Miller: “We don’t use any fossil fuels at all … it’s 100% electric.”

After all, electricity prices in Massachusetts are high. While it is certainly not a state known for consistent sunshine, there is certainly enough sun to make a solar installation well worth it for many homeowners.


Photo by Flickr user Serge Melki

It was by taking advantage of state and federal tax credits that the Millers were able to afford to build this net-zero custom home. They also receive local utility credits which are available to homeowners who produce more energy than they use. The Newton’s can expect a 20% return on their investment; they enthusiastically describe their solar panels “like an ATM on the roof.”

Learn more about Dave and Karen’s home or visit the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center website for a current list of renewable energy incentives in the area.