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What is Net Zero Energy House?

Views: 32     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2024-06-17      Origin: Site

Every home spends a notable amount of money on electricity cost to ensure the lights in the house remain ON, the heating and cooling systems are working, energy appliances like washing machines and dryers are functioning properly, and many more.


 With high electricity costs, there is still an increase in carbon emissions. This has resulted in the ultimate quest for an efficient energy solution that can lower electricity cost and improve environmental sustainability.


A Medium-sized Net Zero Energy House


In this post, we will talk about NET ZERO ENERGY HOUSE, which is an advanced building practice that’s carbon-free, offers premium comfort, and saves money.


What is Net Zero Energy?

Net zero energy refers to the consumption of equal energy as the total energy generated from renewable sources, like solar, thereby resulting in a net balance of zero. It entails 100% usage of renewable energy to meet all energy needs. This approach is climate and environmentally friendly, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.


What is a Net Zero Home?

A net zero home is just like any other home, but better. Net zero homes are regular grid-tied houses that are so air-tight, properly insulated, energy efficient, and designed to generate as much renewable energy as they consume throughout the year. This allows occupants to maintain a carbon-free home without the extra costs of energy bills.


A Small-sized Net Zero Energy Home


Contrary to most people’s belief, a net zero house is not just a “green home” or building with solar panels. Rather, it’s a combination of advanced design and sophisticated building systems integrated with on-site solar panels to create a better home.


Generally, energy zero houses are ultra-comfortable, quiet, and energy-independent, with sustainable future impact on both individuals and communities.


The Policy of Net Zero Energy House

There are several policies in place to ensure accurate establishment of net zero energy homes. They are explained below:


    ● Building Codes

A net zero energy home is stipulated to adhere to several building codes and standards. This includes energy efficiency ratings, like ENERGY STAR certification or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which oversees compliance with stringent energy performance and sustainability criteria.


Other standards specify minimum requirements for energy efficiency, such as insulation levels, air sealing, and window design.


    ● Tax Incentives

In the bid to make the environment safer and preserve it for the future generations, governments offer various tax incentives, such as rebates, tax credits, or deductions for homeowners to invest in renewable energy systems or upgrade their installed energy solutions.


These tax incentives help reduce the initial costs associated with 0 energy home practices, making them less financially burdensome for homeowners.


    ● Financial Support & Public Education

In addition to tax incentives, governments partner with financial organizations to provide support, such as low-interest loans or grants to homeowners. While “low-interest loans” allow for the spread of the total cost over a while, “grants” offer direct assistance to offset the upfront costs, making net zero energy accessible to more homes.


Also, public education campaigns and collaboration with various utilities help to sensitize the public about the numerous benefits of net zero energy building and winter energy saving tips.


Zero-energy Homes are Available Everywhere

A zero energy house can look like any other house or have its unique style. You can design a net zero energy house to fit your preference and location.


Singles, couples, and families, of all age and income ranges, from warm and cold climates can live in zero net energy building. This includes mansions, development homes, small cottages, and tiny homes. They can also be constructed to different building styles, such as colonial, modern, ranch, or craftsman.


There is something for everyone in every location.


The Status of Zero Energy Buildings

Every day, Zero Energy Building practices are gaining more popularity, thanks to the advancements in technologies, industry standards, and government policies propelling the growth.


Generally, the status of zero-energy homes reflects a growing momentum towards sustainable and energy-efficient houses. Here are some of the recent developments:

    ● Increased Adoption: Over the years, there has been a rapid show of interest in net zero energy-building practices because of rising energy costs, environmental concerns, and government policies to regulate climate change. Many countries have passed rulings for energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption targets. For example, President Biden of the United States has called for the general practice of zero emissions for constructions and retrofits by 2030.


    ● Innovations & Technological Advancements: Establishing sustainable building standards and discovering better construction materials have made net zero energy houses more feasible and cost-effective than ever. This is due to the availability of energy-efficient Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems like R290 heat pump, improved insulation materials, and smart building controls.


    ● Market Transformation: With the drift towards better living conditions and government policies, all stakeholders, including developers, architects, and builders are increasingly prioritizing the integration of renewable energy in new construction and renovation projects.


The Advantages of Net Zero Energy House

When there is equality between energy used and energy generated, your home is in balance. This results in many benefits, such as:


   ● Improved Health and Comfortability

A home is a place of rest with premium comfort. It’s way beyond the four walls and roof put in place during construction. The major priorities to be considered when building your home should be health, comfort, and security. It should be designed to serve as a sanctuary of bliss, as well as protect you and your loved ones.


Unlike the traditional building, a zero energy house is built to a higher standard, with advanced materials and practices. All efforts are put in place to ensure you breathe the cleanest air, curb noise pollution, and live comfortably, free from allergens and toxins.


   ● Steady Power Supply

One of the several innovations of 0 energy home is the installation of renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines to generate electricity. This ensures that your building has light even when there are power outages.


Net zero homes are built to have uninterrupted power supply when the power grid is unstable. Solar panels, for example, generate energy from the sun and transform it to electricity for the house. Extra energy obtained from the solar panel is stored in a battery and can be used during the night time or cloudy seasons.


   ● Cost-efficient

Compared to a traditionally built house, the total cost of living in a zero net energy building is very low. From the day you move into the house till forever, you will pay the same energy bill, which is zero. You won’t be affected by the rapid rise in energy prices.


While the initial costs of building a net zero energy home can be high, the long-term cost-savings are worth it. The building is constructed with sophisticated materials and technologies to eliminate recurrent energy bills. Additionally, homeowners benefit from tax credits, rebates, and low-interest loans that help offset the upfront costs.


Generally, a net zero energy house is a 100% profitable investment.


   ● Better Quality

A net zero energy building is professionally developed from the ground to the roof to be super durable and capable of withstanding turbulence. It’s built with energy-efficient designs, such as enhanced air-tight walls, fresh filtered air, conducive indoor environment, and better window technologies. This improves thermal comfort and indoor air quality, as well as reduces temperature fluctuations and allergens.


You can improve the overall air quality of your home by contacting a HVAC professional for the best HVAC system. This includes inquiring about the size of a heat pump that supports premium circulation of air around your home.


   ● Carbon-free and Climate-friendly

The depletion of the ozone layer is one of the most pressing issues in every part of the world. Usage of traditional sources of energy like fossil fuel greatly impacts the climate, thereby destroying the environment for future generations.


Buildings alone are responsible for a large part of this, as most homeowners use fossil fuels to generate energy. But zero-energy homes are designed to produce as much renewable energy as they consume, resulting in zero net carbon emissions. Relying on clean and sustainable energy sources like solar panels, air source, wind, and geothermal energy, greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated and the environment will be protected.


The Problems with Net Zero Homes

Despite the many advantages that come with net zero homes, there are some drawbacks to be conscious of. They are:


   ● Upfront Costs

Building a net zero house or upgrading an old building to a net zero home involves high upfront costs. This may deter homeowners from investing in net zero energy solutions despite the long-term benefits. While there are various financing options available, such as low-interest loans, grants, or incentives, getting these resources usually requires additional paperwork. This contributes to the complexity of the program.


   ● Location Challenges

Net zero houses majorly generate power from renewable sources like solar, wind, or geothermal energy. However, the availability of these resources vary depending on geographical locations, as well as climate conditions. Some regions experience limited sunlight, low wind speed, or insufficient space for geothermal energy installations.


   ● Monitoring and Maintenance

A 0 energy home is built with renewable energy systems that feature advanced energy-efficient qualities, such as solar panels, heat pumps, and energy storage systems. These systems require frequent monitoring and maintenance, which is not within the skill set of homeowners. Hence, you will need the service of a technical expert to identify and fix any problem.


Path to Net Zero Energy

Below are 3 mediums through which energy consumption and carbon emission in homes can be reduced, leading to a more eco-friendly environment.


   ● Zero Energy Ready Home/Building

If you would like to benefit from a zero energy home, but considering the high initial costs, Zero Energy Ready Home is for you. These homes are constructed to be inexpensive, without compromising quality.


The major difference is that zero energy ready homes are built without the installation of renewable energy systems like solar panels or wind turbines to offset some energy demand. Although the design and wiring for the solar panel or wind turbine will be constructed for future purposes.


As a result of the lesser price tag, homeowners can easily migrate fully to achieving net zero energy consumption.


   ● Net Zero Energy House

A Net Zero Energy House is an upper grade to Zero Energy Ready Home. It’s typically a home that produces as much energy as it uses over the year. This balance is achieved by using energy-efficient design principles and fully installed renewable energy systems to handle the whole energy needs.


Some of the amenities incorporated in net zero energy homes include solar panels, wind turbines, HVAC systems, highly-efficient windows, and lighting to produce clean air and curb energy demands. This also includes the utilization of storage systems like batteries to preserve excess renewable energy for use during times when there is low sunlight or wind.


   ● Net Zero Carbon

Basically, Net Zero Carbon involves getting a balance between the quantity of carbon dioxide emissions released and the quantity offset. While it looks like Net Zero Energy House, Net Zero Carbon does not have to do with only energy-related emissions. Other factors like transportation or carbon in building materials are considered.


Attaining Net Zero Carbon involves a holistic assessment of the building design and sources of carbon emissions, including direct and indirect.


The Requirements for Zero Net Energy Building

To qualify as a Zero Net Energy Building, the home must meet the various requirements specified by DOE.

   ● Detached dwellings, such as single-family houses

   ● Duplexes

   ● Multi-family and mixed-use houses with dwelling or sleeping units not higher than 5 stories.


The buildings listed above must have comfortable units and common space that’s over 50% of the building’s square footage. The parking garage space is not included in this estimate.


The Device for Net Zero Energy House

A Net Zero Energy House is mandated to have certain devices, which includes:


   ● Low-E Windows

Low-emissivity (Low-E) windows are used to reduce the infrared and ultraviolet light that comes into the house. These windows do this without affecting the amount of visible light that is transmitted into your home.

Low-E Windows


By blocking a large amount of infrared and UV light from entering the house, your interior items like furniture and carpets are prevented from fading. Generally, Low-E windows minimize heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, thereby reducing heating and cooling costs.


   ● LED Lighting


When your home is turned into a net zero energy house, change old bulbs to LEDs or smart bulbs with low energy and high-quality lighting. This is because LEDs use about 90% less energy than other types of bulbs. This comes with a 25,000 hours or more lifespan, eliminating frequent replacements.


LED Lighting in net energy home


LED lighting produces very little heat, which minimizes the workload required by cooling systems in your home. Also, LEDs do not contain dangerous substances like harmful mercury, making them environmentally friendly.


      ● Efficient Air Sealing Equipment

This involves using devices like caulking and weather-stripping materials to close the gaps around windows, doors, and other openings in the house. Doing this efficiently will prevent air leakage, save high energy, and improve the overall comfort of your home. Remember that weatherization and proper ventilation complement each other.


Efficient Air Sealing Equipment


Additionally, proper air sealing will protect the building structure by preventing moisture, allergens, and pollutants that can lead to mold or rot.


      ● Smart Thermostat 

This is a device that offers automated and optimized control of a home’s heating and cooling systems. Basically, it reduces energy consumption by optimizing heating and cooling schedules based on the number of people in the house and user settings. It features Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to control the temperature of your home remotely.


Smart Thermostat


Smart thermostats also provide detailed usage reports, which allows you to know how energy is being used across the home. This encourages better management.


      ● Air Source Heat Pump

This is a device that transfers heat from outside into your home for heating or cooling purposes. Installing a wholesale heat pump across your buildings is very cost-efficient, as heat pumps produce 3-4 units of heat for every unit of electricity used.

Air Source Heat Pump

Air source heat pumps generate energy through ambient air, eliminating reliance on fossil fuels. And they can be integrated with water heating systems to provide domestic hot water for optimal home comfort.


      ● Duct System

It transfers conditioned air throughout a home and it’s very important for air source heat pump operation. The duct system comes with filters that ensure the distributed air is clean. Also, it is designed to evenly distribute the conditioned air to every area of the home.


Duct System


      ● Proper Insulation

With adequate insulation comes consistent indoor temperatures. It cuts down on the energy needed to heat or cool a home, resulting in lower energy bills. Proper insulation also helps with soundproofing and reduction of noise.


Proper Insulation in house


  ● Solar Panels

Roof-mounted solar panels are currently the most affordable renewable energy generation system. A solar system can provide electricity at 60% to 70% of the electricity cost you pay from the grid.


net energy house with solar panel


Solar panels lowers greenhouse gas emissions and provide energy security and independence from utility companies and skyrocketing energy costs.


  • ENERGY STAR Certified Appliances: Above all, it’s important to use ENERGY STAR certified appliances i.e. devices that meet or exceed energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These devices use 10 to 50% less energy than other appliances that are not certified. This helps reduce total utility costs.

Since these devices consume lower energy, their greenhouse gas emission is largely reduced.


Tips for Building Zero Energy Homes

These tips can help you build an efficient zero energy house:

      ● Before starting the construction, design a zero energy-ready home that has all the energy-saving features needed. Do not include the solar system yet. The solar system can take a chunk of the total costs, which can discourage you from going on with the project. So, remove it from the plan until the money is available. An alternative is to lease the solar system and pay over time.


      ● One way to offset the total cost of a zero-energy home is to make the house smaller. For example, if the construction is $100/sq.ft., you can choose to build a home of 2,000 sq.ft. instead of 2,500 sq. ft. The $50,000 difference can be used to cater for other expenses of the home.


      ● Take advantage of the financial incentives and grants available for zero-energy homes. Federal and state governments have various offerings to reduce the total cost for zero energy home setups. Explore these options to spend less.


Cases of 0 Energy Home

These are examples of 0 energy home, showing the growing trend and feasibility of net zero energy houses:


      ● FortisBC Net-Zero Homes (British Columbia, Canada): Consists of several net zero energy homes that use advanced building envelopes, dual-fuel HVAC systems, and solar panels. They provide several innovative ways to save energy and help you lower your expenses.


      ● Pendergrast Farm Conservation Community (Atlanta, Georgia, USA): A community of 20 zero energy-ready homes built near Emory Hospitals, University, and Intown Atlanta. It also features an on-site urban farm. The development is focused on conservation, fellowship, and a connection to nature. The community will fully become a net zero energy base when solar panels are installed.


      ● Historic Massachusetts Contemporary Home (Lexington, Massachusetts, USA): This net zero energy home is a 4,200 square-foot house with 40 roof-mounted solar panels. It also has double-wall construction and triple-glazed windows for superior insulation, making it 58% more energy-efficient than a conventional home.


Conclusion

Migrating to a net zero energy house is not just a desirable goal, but an essential evolution for the environment. Designed to generate as much energy as they consume, these houses greatly reduce carbon footprint and climate change, promote energy independence, and lower energy costs over time.


SPRSUN is a heat pump China manufacturer specialized in producing eco-friendly and energy-saving air source heat pumps for zero-energy homes. For more insight on how air-source heat pumps significantly affect your home setup, or if you need heat pumps for zero-energy buildings, feel free to contact us.



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