New Austin housing development built for sustainable living, net-zero energy

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just 15 miles northeast of downtown Austin is a new community redefining sustainable living. Whisper Valley is a community made up of zero-energy capable homes, or homes built and designed to produce a large portion (if not, all) of their own energy.

How? By using geothermal energy, solar energy and smart home technology.

Whisper Valley homes are outfitted with solar panels and geothermal power to help offset energy usage.

David Currie, Community Relations Manager at Whisper Valley, has been with the development since the first homeowner moved in back in 2017.

Currie describes the community as being built “very much like a human body, where you have this network going throughout the neighborhood and then you have this centralized hub house where we can do all of our monitoring and maintaining.”

With more than 300 homes already built in a master plan of 7500, the community uses a grid of underground wells to harness geothermal energy as a way to heat and cool the homes. This renewable energy can save up to 70% on energy consumption. Homes also have the option of pulling from the region’s energy grid when needed.

The green energy goes beyond just consumption. Whisper Valley homes are also built with solar panels to be able to produce energy.

Sustainable living

The homes are equipped with sensors that “listen” to where energy is being used in the home. The usage readings are then displayed on a monitor showing the homeowner just how much the oven, water heater, dishwasher and laundry machines consume. This allows users to tailor their lifestyle to a greener solution.

Residents are able to monitor their energy usage using smart home appliances.

Kirra and Katie Paskins, residents of Whisper Valley, spoke with KXAN about their change in lifestyle. “We used to always do laundry at night, because we are busy during the day or not home, we’ve been working from home. So we will not do laundry when it’s a cloudy day, we’ll delay it until it’s a sunny day and make sure it’s all solar power and not pulling from the grid,” Paskins says.

The benefit not being limited to the Earth but also benefitting their wallets. “Overall, the change in our energy bill is pretty drastic. We didn’t go over $50 any month this summer” says Paskins.

Whisper Valley hopes to lead by example in the home building industry… constructing neighborhoods focused on green energy, eco-friendly solutions… and of course, the future of Austin.

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