What Are Zero Energy Homes?

Zero energy building is the process of constructing a home where the net energy consumption is zero. This means the consumption of energy to power the home on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy generated on the property. These homes contribute less to the carbon footprint than traditional non-zero energy homes.

Most of the zero energy homes use the electrical grid for energy storage, but some are independent of the grid. Energy is harvested from the environment using energy producing technologies like solar and wind, while reducing energy demand by constructing a tight envelope that controls indoor air temperature, using high efficient HVAC systems and low voltage lighting.


Zero energy homes are available in just about any design available (or not thought of yet) i.e. traditional, modern, craftsman, contemporary, European and others. They are single-story or multi-stories; can be built anywhere. Much of the energy efficient technologies are designed within the structure, such as the walls, floors, roofs and mechanical systems.


A tighter home equates to a more healthy and comfortable home because you are able to control the indoor moisture content and air quality. Exterior walls constructed of high-density foam and energy efficient windows and doors reduce exterior air infiltration, which contributes to uncomfortable humidity levels and unhealthy air in a home. Adding a high efficient, high velocity HVAC removes indoor air contaminates and reduces the amount of humidity creating a comfortable and healthy indoor environment.


Zero energy homes don’t have to be expensive. Of coarse, with any new home design, you have ability to include what you want depending on your budget. Everyone’s definition of “affordable” will differ. But affordable here means in general terms that zero energy homes construction costs are similar to traditional building methods, but with the added benefit of ongoing monthly reduced living costs. Your energy costs are going to be much less that of your neighbors, who live in a traditional build home.


The Department of Energy has a rating system that calculates the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index on zero energy home designs. The HERS score calculates the amount of energy savings for home and also estimates yearly energy costs, or costs savings when you compare costs from your previous home. Homes that meet the stringent DOE criteria of a zero energy home are certified as a Zero Energy Ready Home. All Blue Zero Homes’ will be participating in the HERS program. Each home will have a index score.

Click to learn more about the DOE HERS index.