YOUR NET ZERO HOME
REDUCE — OR ELIMINATE — ENERGY BILLS
What is a Net Zero home?
A Net Zero home is one in which the total amount of energy used by the home is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on-site. If eliminating utility bills sounds good to you, read on
No more utility bills? How do I do that?
There are several steps to work towards the goal of a Net Zero home. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once. Nor do you have to do all of it.
Whether you want to save some money or do the whole enchilada, it is up to you. Either way, it’s best to have a plan and do it in steps.
And by the way, some people actually generate more energy than they need. They sell it back to the energy company. But let’s start slowly right now.
Start with an energy audit.
A full home energy audit is your first step. The audit report will tell you what to do in a prioritized order. It will also let you know what each improvement is likely to cost. The goal is not only to save energy, but also to ensure the home uses every unit of energy to its maximum potential. Besides savings, your home will be more comfortable!
What things should I do to achieve Net Zero energy consumption?
Six basic items in your home are reviewed in your audit report. Each area that you improve brings you closer to a Net Zero home. Again, some people do a few things and save money. Others go 100% gungho towards achieving Net Zero energy consumption.
1. Safe, proper air exchange – You need a low level of air leakage through cracks and gaps. This doesn’t mean NO airflow. It means the RIGHT amount of ventilation. Too much airflow and you are heating the great outdoors. Too little ventilation and you are creating an unhealthy indoor environment. Your energy auditor can help you achieve just the correct amount of ventilation.
2. Appliance and HVAC efficiency – High-efficiency major appliances (HVAC) contribute to home energy efficiency. So do the other home appliances, such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers.
3. An efficient home envelope – To achieve a Net Zero home, the building envelope should be highly efficient. We’re talking about the outside, or shell, of your home. Areas such as doors and windows need to be properly sealed. The attic, foundation, crawlspaces, and exterior walls must also be properly sealed. High R-Value insulation in these areas also helps conserve energy.
4. Lighting – Energy-saving bulbs such as LEDs can make a big difference. Such lights may also qualify for energy rebates.
5. Passive heating design – Passive heat loss & gain designs (shading) should be evaluated. Examples include bushes and trees, which can reduce summer air conditioning costs by providing shade. Likewise, design barriers can protect house winds in winter. Exterior window overhangs set at the correct angle or pitch can also provide needed shade.
6. Self-renewing energy source – For a home to be completely energy self-sufficient, it will most likely need to incorporate solar power or utilize some other form of renewable energy source.
What else with the energy audit do for me?
A full home energy audit helps determine high-priority interventions. Some projects will bring greater savings per dollar spent, so your home energy auditor will prioritize “low-hanging fruit.”
The auditor will base recommendations on industry best practices and techniques. And you’ll learn which interventions will yield the greatest returns on your energy improvement investments.
You can work towards Net Zero home energy consumption.
However, if Net Zero energy consumption is ultimately your goal, the audit will provide a roadmap towards this end. The ultimate goal might even be to make money generating additional energy! The choice is yours.