New homeowners get ready to move into Eco Village - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New homeowners get ready to move into Eco Village

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River Falls (WQOW) - A unique set of new homes in River Falls will take energy conservation to a whole new level. Habitat for Humanity, UW-River Falls, and the city of River Falls teamed up to create what they call an "Eco Village". It's an environmentally friendly community where homeowners help build homes that will eventually save them thousands of dollars in utility bills.

"The homes are all independently energy self sustaining. They're built like a very tight envelope, there's very little air infiltration. They lose very little heat or very little cooling during the summer," said Jim Farr, the Executive Director of the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity

Sunday marked a day of celebration for homeowners at the Eco Village in River Falls. Homeowners were given keys to their soon-to-be new homes.

"This is it, this is my home, my kitchen, I'll get to cook in here, make my family dinners. My keys to my house right there, so let's give you a little tour here," said Nakeia Dismond, one of the homeowners in the Eco Village.

Nakeia and her family will be one of the first to move into the new homes, which are designed to produce about the same amount of energy that they consume. 

When the homes in the Eco Village are finished, they'll all have solar panels on the roof. That will help the families inside them cut down on energy costs.

"Our modeling suggests they'll save two to three hundred dollars a month in utility bills. That then can go to families needs for groceries, for healthcare, for education for their kids, those types of things," Farr explained.

The cost to build each of these homes is around $130,000. The families that are moving in had to help build them.

"I can remember seeing my son with a hammer, and hammering, putting up the walls and hammering it up to get this started. So he's really excited to move into his room that he literally helped put the walls up," Dismond said.

That work takes away some of the financial stress associated with moving into a new home.

"Sweat equity in essence becomes the mechanism for a down payment. When you work 500 hours on a home or someone else's home, we give them credit for that," Farr said.

The first four families in the Eco Village are expected to move in within the next month or so. Eventually there will be a total of 18 homes built.

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