Eco-friendly Ballard home is earning money for its owners

SEATTLE -- A Ballard couple's frugal approach to home building is paying off, and they're now the proud owners of the first home in Seattle that actually produces more energy than it uses.

Eric Thompson said he and his wife were just an average couple faced with the common problem of wanting to buy their first home but not liking anything in their price range.

So instead of settling for a house they didn't really like, the couple decided to start from scratch and build their own dream house.

What they came up with turned out to be revolutionary.

"We said, 'This is the type of house we want. We don't want to pay any energy bills,' and this is what we got," Eric Thompson said. "We don't pay anything in electricity, in heating. There's no gas in the house, which is just incredible for us. We're saving a couple hundred dollars a month."

From the ground up, the home's designer, Ted Clifton, included high-tech energy and environmental features right into the structure.

The home's most visible energy-efficient features are the solar panels that line the roof, but the couple also used recycled building materials wherever possible.

The house also uses two-way power lines, so during the summer it actually feeds power back into the grid.

The house itself cost Thomas and his wife about $178,000. However the costs for land, plans, fees, permits and taxes brought their total investment to nearly $400,000.

The couple expects to get $9,000 in cash rebates this year, with another $1,000 a year in energy incentives payments for the next nine years.