Ron gets a self-sufficient no-prize for bringing us news of an affordable "zero-energy" home. While earlier attempts to create a house that cost nothing to operate resulted in million-dollar (albeit green) McMansions, Norman, Oklahoma-based Ideal Homes used computer simulations to alter construction techniques to help reduce the cost of constructing such a home. This, combined with a few high-tech appliances, has resulted in a 1600 square-foot house with a claimed cost of less than $200,000 (in Norman, OK, one would presume) which has an average utility cost of zero.
We do what we can (tinted windows, compact flourescent lights, automated thermostat, etc.), but I must admit the "geek factor" of all those nifty gadgets sounds mighty appealing. Problem is in the overheated housing market of this area the dratted thing would probably cost $450k+.