You've probably heard many people talking about their net-zero energy home and how much they love it, how rewarding it is to live in, and how much money they save on energy costs while helping the environment. Perhaps you've wondered what a net-zero energy home is and if it might be the right choice for you.

If you're in the market for a new place to live and have considered building your own home, a net-zero energy home might be the perfect choice for you. Join the many happy homeowners who have designed and built eco-friendly, cost-efficient, and comfortable homes for much less expensive than you might think.

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What is a Net-Zero Energy Home? 

Zero energy homes are just like any other house on the block - with one crucial distinction. Zero energy homes are marvels of energy-saving, efficient innovation.

These days, many houses are "eco-friendly," but zero energy homes go beyond solar panels and energy-efficient "smart" appliances. These homes combine excellent design and engineering with cutting edge, environmentally conscious technology, to create homes that don't just conserve energy - they create it.

Built to be air-tight, with insulation so energy efficient that they produce as much renewable energy as they conserve, they are indeed the future of home-building.

What is the Benefit of a Net-Zero Energy Home? 

The benefits of such a home are apparent!

For starters, the level of comfort you'll experience in a net-zero energy home is unparalleled. You will breathe clean, fresh, air - free of mold, allergens, and other toxins. Temperatures will always be mild, without the need for overusing the HVAC.  

The design of net-zero homes is efficient, and they are heavily insulated. You'll enjoy the tranquility as you never have before. Better sleep, more comfort, and a stress-free home environment will be yours. 

Aside from comfort, owning a net-zero energy home will save you money, which is one of its more important aspects for many people. Because these homes are so energy efficient, you'll see the benefits with every monthly electric bill. The conditions and benefits of zero energy homes are consistent over time, so although your neighbor's power bills may surge over the years, your costs will remain the same.

Money and comfort are undoubtedly significant factors to consider, but the impact (or lack thereof) on the environment, may be best of all. You'll have peace of mind knowing that you live in a home that conserves energy and produces it. You'll know that your home isn't harming the environment, but rather is helping it.

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Interested in learning about homes that don’t hurt the planet? Read on for all the details. 

Zero Energy vs. Standard Homes

There are many advantages to building a zero energy home over a conventional home.

Even the most up-to-date designs in standard homes can fall short in energy efficiency, comfort, and safety. There are many factors to consider, such as the location of your building, materials, architectural design, and more. With so many "cooks in the kitchen," it can be hard to guarantee that new construction meets environmental specifications.

Zero energy homes are designed to be energy efficient and sustainable from the ground up. Everything, from the beginning design, to the materials, construction, wiring, appliances, and more, is all part of a larger plan to keep the home zero-energy and efficient. From the insulation to the flooring, from the instruments to the paint - it's all part of a beautiful, larger design that will guarantee that your home is as efficient (and comfortable) as possible.

One bonus of having a zero-energy home is that they are much more durable than standard homes because more time is spent, and better materials are used in construction.

Many homeowners like the idea of zero-energy homes so much that they've begun converting their more conventional homes, room by room (usually starting with the attic or basement), into zero-energy models! These hybrid homes are often called "green" homes (more below) and should tell you how highly sought after zero-energy homes are.

Green Homes vs. Zero Energy Homes

Green homes are an excellent option for many people and are more environmentally-kind than standard homes.

There are some critical differences between a green home and a zero-energy home, however.

A "green" home can be an already existing property that has been upgraded to a state of higher energy efficiency, where a zero-energy home is almost always a newly built structure.

While "green" houses follow many of the same ideas and building planning as zero-energy homes (heavy insulation, ventilation, solar heating, and focus on removing leakages, etc.), they don't adhere to the same strict standards as zero-energy homes. They do, however, often have energy-efficient appliances, such as energy starred HVAC systems.

The percentages of energy saved in a "green" house are reasonable - around 60-80% - but the energy saved in a zero-energy home is much better. One hundred percent is the winner every time!


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Cost of Common Home Construction

The cost of building any home, especially a zero-energy home, will vary depending on many factors. These include your location, the type of land you're building on, the size of the house, the design, special features, additions and appliances, and even your credit.

However, the assumption that zero-energy homes cannot be built affordably is not correct. The truth is that it is possible to build a net-zero energy home on a budget! They can be much more affordable than you might imagine.

Here are some numbers to give you an idea. In today's dollars, the average-sized family home costs around $240,000. The average net-zero energy home of the same size costs around $263,000. That is a small increase in costs, to have a zero-energy home. That increase works out to be less than ten dollars per square foot!

Are Net-Zero Homes Worth It?

When you decide to build a net-zero home, you might wonder if these upgrades are worth the cost. Over the years, you will see some significant savings. When you make the choice to build a net-zero home, there are upgrades that maximize energy usage throughout your house. However, you must remember that those up-front costs are higher than those traditional builds. In some cases, the final cost for a net-zero home is affordable, especially if the square footage is smaller than an average home.

What Goes Into a Net-Zero House?

At the most basic definition, a net-zero home yields an energy bill of $0 per year. However, a net-zero home is also energy efficient, and it can produce renewable energy as well. In turn, the home becomes a self-sustainable structure that is considered carbon neutral. 

For many people, they believe that the term ‚Äúnet-zero‚ÄĚ only means placing a few solar panels on the roof. While solar energy is part of the process, it doesn't include the full picture for net-zero homes. When you are thinking about building or retrofitting a home, you must consider a few things ‚Äúoutside of the box.‚ÄĚ These features include practicing energy savings, using superior building materials, and utilizing new technology. This process may seem overwhelming, but it is worth the effort to make a positive impact on your wallet and the environment.¬†

What Are 5 Energy Efficient Features that Can Bring a House to the Goal of Net-Zero?

When you are ready to take the net-zero plunge, there are five energy efficient features that you should try to include into your home. 

Effective Insulation

If you are looking to create a net-zero home, you should look at your insulation. Insulation can help reduce your energy costs and make your home more efficient. Some insulation options are environmentally friendly as well. 

Energy Star Appliances

Another way to gain some net-zero saving is by adding energy star appliances. Those refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, washers, and dryers are all marked with a government-backed symbol on them. These appliances help make your home more energy efficient. 

Energy Efficient Lighting

You might also want to swap out those incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). They produce similar light to those older bulbs and can fit into standard light sockets. 

High-Efficiency Water Heater

On average, a water heater accounts for 15 percent of your home’s energy usage. With a high-efficiency water heater, you can reduce those costs by 10 to 50 percent each year. 

Low Flow Showerheads and Toilets

As you may have imagined, toilets and showers use a lot of water. However, you can reduce the

amount of water usage when you install a low flow toilet and showerhead. In some cases, you could save about 5 gallons of water per flush. 

Which House Shape Is the Most Energy Efficient?

If you are looking for a truly net-zero home for a new build, you might want to select a home in a dome shape. This design is the most energy efficient since it loses the least amount of heat during the winter. Plus, it’s shape can protect against storms throughout the year. 

Net-Zero Home Upgrades

As we stated above, many homeowners who already have traditional homes, are choosing to upgrade areas of these homes, to become like (in part) like their savvier cousins. The benefits of making a home carbon-free, environmentally friendly, and zero-energy are almost irresistible!

Many homeowners and builders are finding innovative and affordable ways to upgrade their homes and make them more energy efficient by using materials like thick insulation (spray foam and others), recycled materials like cellulose, and others.

man holding up a plan in front of a house

How to Save Money on Net-Zero Energy Homes

When looking to save money on your energy-efficient home, follow the homeowner's "Two R’s" - these will save money. 

Reduce:

Homeowners and home builders alike have found that reducing the size of their structure/home by even one small room (say, 240 square feet) can give them huge savings every month. Consider this when designing your home and determining how large the rooms should be. Do you need all that space?

Rebate:

When purchasing appliances, especially the energy-efficient ones, look for rebates. There are often MANY rebates offered, not only from the manufacturer or the store from which you are purchasing but even the electrical company themselves. Often utility companies offer significant rebates and discounts to customers who utilize energy-efficient appliances in their homes. You'd be surprised at how great these savings can be - potentially, thousands of dollars per year.

One other excellent option is to look into an EEM, or Energy-Efficient Mortgage. Many lenders will work with customers who are building net-zero energy homes, charging low rates for their environmental and economic mindfulness. 

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How Can We Help

Visit My Site Plan to review and browse many net-zero energy home plans designed by our professional and experienced team. Specializing in both commercial and residential structures, our team has the know-how to design the best structures based on your location, climate, and your unique preferences. We will work with the building permits and laws of your area. Together we can help you design and build the perfect net-zero energy home for your family's needs and budget. A zero-energy home can be yours, affordably and comfortably. 

Are you ready to find out more about these amazing homes? Check out My Site Plan - they can help. 

 

 

 

 

FAQ Answer
What is the difference between a net-zero home and a carbon neutral home? Net-zero homes are designed to produce as much energy as they consume, effectively bringing the net energy usage to zero. Carbon neutral homes, on the other hand, focus on offsetting carbon emissions to zero, which might involve using renewable energy and additional carbon offsets. Net-zero homes are inherently carbon neutral due to their energy balance.
How do net-zero energy homes impact property values? Net-zero energy homes often increase property values due to their modern technology, energy savings, and appeal to environmentally-conscious buyers. The long-term savings and efficiency typically attract a premium in the housing market.
What are the most common challenges in building a net-zero energy home? Common challenges include higher initial costs, finding skilled contractors familiar with net-zero construction, local building codes that may not accommodate innovative technologies, and the need for precise design and engineering to ensure the home's energy balance.
Can existing homes be retrofitted to become net-zero? Yes, existing homes can be retrofitted to become net-zero energy homes. This involves upgrades such as improving insulation, installing energy-efficient appliances and windows, and adding renewable energy sources like solar panels. However, achieving net-zero status might be more complex compared to building from scratch.
What maintenance is required for a net-zero energy home? Maintenance for net-zero energy homes includes regular checks and upkeep of energy-efficient systems and appliances, solar panels, and other renewable energy sources. Ensuring that insulation and seals remain intact is also crucial to maintain energy efficiency.
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