Net Zero Energy homes – words you are sure to have heard in combination, but what does it mean?
Simply put, a Net Zero Energy (NET ZERO ENERGY) home is a building that nets zero energy consumption. For many homes with this title, it implies that the total amount of energy used by the home approximately equals the amount of renewable energy created by the home. Zero-Net Energy homes are highly engineered buildings and only came into the market when progress in academic research became available about 30 years ago. Net Zero Energy homes are not available on the mass market and are usually only built as custom homes. Read more below to discover the benefits of Zero-Net Energy homes and why they are becoming increasingly popular in today’s housing market!
1. Tax Incentives
Many tax breaks and incentives exist for those who choose to own a Net Zero Energy home. It is common for homes to receive at least $2,000 for solar panel installation in most states and provinces. For example, in Massachusetts, a 30% tax credit for solar investment is offered to homes that use federally approved solar technologies which will greatly offset the initial cost of installing renewable energies on your home. Similar rebate programs exist all over North America due to the government’s interest in investing in innovative technologies.
2. Superior Insulation Quality
Builders have all claimed the first key to a Zero-Net Energy home is in how strong its insulation properties are. The heat envelope of the home must be completely air tight in order to ensure reduced heat loss in winter and reduced heat gain in the summer. With superior insulation, homeowners don’t have to worry paying for heat or cooling leaks in their home and are assured that they are paying for exactly what they use on their energy bills.
3. Home Orientation
In addition to being properly insulated, a Net Zero Energy home is also properly positioned. It is well known in the eco-conscious building community that all efficient homes are built on an East-West axis, with most windows facing the South side of the home. This benefit captures natural light the most effectively in order to ensure that your home is as well-lit as possible without it becoming over-heated in the summertime and is as warm as possible in the wintertime.
4. Energy Bills
Saving on energy bills is one of the major benefits that many people find when they build Net Zero Energy homes. Because they are built as efficiently and thoughtfully as possible, Net Zero Energy homes will require no energy from the energy grid. In fact, some Net Zero Energy homes perform their duty of retaining energy so well that they are able to feed clean energy back to the grid. Homeowners get compensated from the city for their contributions. Most homeowners choose to stay connected to the grid for a very minimal monthly fee in case of emergency situations; however, some residents find this to be unnecessary. The return on the investment of making a home Net Zero Energy is most apparent in this benefit as it is a long term solution that never stops giving back to the home owner.
5. Higher Resale Value
The market will gravitate towards trends, and as the popularity of Net Zero Energy homes increase, so will their resale value. People are aware that they will be continuously saving on energy bills and thus want to invest in a Net Zero Energy home; however, not everyone may have the time, patience or willingness to be a part of the construction process and would simply prefer purchasing a lightly used Net Zero Energy home. The time, effort and value that is put into the building of a Net Zero Energy home comes with a price tag that benefits the original owners, should they choose to eventually sell their Net Zero Energy home.
6. Minimizing your Ecological Footprint
Building a Net Zero Energy home (or fixing your current home to becoming Net Zero Energy does help your finances – but the real beneficiary is the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced and resources are well preserved. This allows homeowners to sleep with an elevated sense of peace and may even qualify their homes for various eco-conscious home design awards offered by their city, province, state or country.
7. Comfortable Living Space
All testimonials of those living in Net Zero Energy homes have said the same thing – the living quality is incomparable. This is likely due to a combination of putting effort into thinking about their home, its layout and location as well as the indoor air quality, stable temperatures and isolation from outdoor noise. In addition, people who choose to build Net Zero Energy homes are involved in a lot of decisions in the making of their home – making them extremely knowledgeable, proud and completely aware of every detail in the home. This knowledge provides an elevated sense of comfort and ability to feel truly at home in their Net Zero Energy house.
8. Budget Flexibility
When people imagine building a custom home, their first thought is that they are unable to, because they can’t afford it. However, in 2013, a young couple in Seattle proved this theory wrong, building their two-storey 1,915 sq-ft Net Zero Energy home for $125/sq-ft. When budgeting your home, it is important to think about what you need instead of what it is conventional. This couple has a large open space, 3 bedrooms, but no basement and spent $399,000, including the lot they chose to build on and the vast number of environmental rebates they received on their home. In addition, knowing that they will not be paying the approximate amount of $150/month for energy, their home has been more than worth it for them, and within the cost of an average home in Seattle. After living in their home for a year, they have found the temperature of the home to be extremely comfortable and have produced a surplus of about 1,400 kWh.
The American Association of Architects is aiming to have all homes being built to produce as much energy as they consume by 2030. This is not exactly a Net Zero house, since Net Zero Energy homes are custom. This group wants Net Zero Energy homes to be available and affordable to the mainstream public. They have already built and sold out a flagship community of Net Zero Energy homes in Guelph, Ontario and are looking to continue building this market. Net Zero Energy homes are the future of buildings and can only be achieved by forward thinking designers and builders coming together to make a home the most efficient living space possible.
To read more about BONE Structure’s first net-zero residence in Stanford, California, click here