Zero energy homes are almost like every other home, but with a few modifications. They are normal grid-tied houses that are well insulated, energy efficient, air tight and produce the same amount of renewable energy as they consume in a span of one year. This way the occupants are left with a carbon-free home and a net zero-energy bill.
A zero-energy home is not just one with solar panels or a green house but has a combination of advanced designing and superior building systems to create an improved home.
HIGH EFFICIENCY VS ZERO ENERGY HOMES
A high-efficiency home has features such as a solar water heater, high-efficiency appliances and a small photovoltaic system which brings the use of energy down to about 84 kWh per square foot in a year. New technology has made it possible to reduce energy inputs to modern homes.
Zero energy homes also known as ZEH consume absolutely no energy at all. The process isn’t as simple as it sounds, but the end result is a net-zero energy consumption. It is the most efficient a house can get without giving up the use of electricity altogether. Giving all the comforts of a regular house, the zero energy house heats, cools, washes, drys and entertains. The only difference is that it does all these things more efficiently. It generates solar energy that is enough to cover its own low-energy needs. They use 60 % less energy than a typical home with a pure environment benefit, saving the home owner a lot of money in the long run.
A zero energy house is built from the very basics starting with an elementary design and construction focusing on reducing energy requirements and increasing the house’s built-in capacity for generation of energy. With advanced framing techniques and floor insulation, it prevents heat loss eliminating places where insulation cannot be placed properly. All certified zero energy homes are built with a heat recovery ventilator to expel the indoor air and take in fresh air from the outdoors. There is minimal use of natural gas to heat the homes during winter. Compact fluorescent, LED (light emitting diode) lighting and Energy Star appliances further reduce electric use. The houses are also installed with solar panels to offset the energy use.
Some other design elements include:
- Extra-thick windows and insulation
- Built-in temperature and ventilation monitoring systems
- skylights placed strategically to minimize lighting needs
- Orientation to get maximum advantage of exposure to the sun for solar panels
- Attic sealing of high-performance to minimize cooling needs in summer
Less energy is required by a zero-energy home as compared to a standard home. As it uses 60 percent less energy, it has to produce its own clean power using Solar PV panels. What makes zero energy homes unique is that they combine increased electricity production and reduced electricity requirements.
It’s a big deal to cut down on carbon emissions and the money factor is a major concern in this regard. Some zero energy homes cost around a few hundred thousand dollars whereas there are some that have a price of almost a million dollars!
HEALTH AND COMFORT
A home is intended to be a place of comfort and security for you and your family. As zero energy homes are built to the highest standard, not only will you enjoy a cool and quiet indoor environment, but also breathe cleaner air and feel the most comfortable temperatures. You can go to bed assured that you and your family are living in a healthy and comfortable home free of toxins.
From the day you move in to as long as you stay in the house, the cost of living is less than that of a standard house. A zero energy home protects you from a rapid rise in energy prices. Even years later you will be paying the same price you pay today for the maintenance and running of the house, which is almost negligible.
One of the most pressing issues faced by Americans and people around the globe is climate change. Forty percent of the total energy is used by buildings in America. These houses are a cornerstone of a reduced carbon future and you can easily control where the energy to your home comes from.
Zero energy homes are a modern breakthrough, but to guarantee maximum savings you need to be aware of the energy use and avoid leaving lights, and windows open to save costs.