With the rising cost of energy and growing environmental concerns, many people are looking for ways to reduce their energy bills and their impact on the environment. If you find yourself contemplating these same concerns, enter the Net Zero home.

A zero-energy building, also known as a Net Zero Home, is a popular term to describe a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Energy can be harvested on-site through a combination of energy producing technologies, while reducing the overall use of energy with extremely efficient HVAC and Lighting technologies as well as other alternative building practices.

For example, if you live in the North East, the climate changes dramatically throughout the year. In certain seasons a Net Zero Home will produce more energy than it consumes during that season, in effect selling energy back to the utility company. During other seasons the home may need to consume some energy from the grid, balancing the seasons that produced excess energy.

In other areas, Net Zero Homes can be designed to operate completely off the grid depending on climate, lot conditions and available budget.

Owning a Net Zero home means living with the ultimate combination of energy-saving technology, comfort and affordability. More importantly, it means possibly never paying a utility bill ever again. Net Zero homes go above and beyond other ‘green building’ concepts, with the capability of producing as much energy as you consume.

Possible systems and building techniques that make up a Net Zero Home

Passive Solar
In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design or climatic design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it doesn’t involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices.

Advanced Solar Systems
Revolutionary new solar energy systems allow you to maximize your home’s energy efficiency by harnessing the sun’s energy to produce electricity, heat water and help heat and cool your home.

Spray Foam Insulation
Spray-foam insulation fully insulates the walls and attic to help maintain temperatures, and reduce fluctuations, throughout your house while saving up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.

Low-E2 or E3 Windows
Low-E2 or E3 vinyl windows reduce energy use and keep homes cooler.

High-Efficiency HVAC Systems
Minimum SEER 14 HVAC units provide significant annual savings. A more efficient heating and cooling system is quieter, reduces indoor humidity, and improves the overall comfort of the home.

Fresh Air Intakes
Fresh-air intakes help circulate fresh air into the home and reduce the need to run HVAC systems during certain seasons.

Non-Temperature-Transferring Wall Systems
Non-temperature-transferring Wall Systems are 2.5 – 3.5x more energy efficient than a standard wall, keeping outside temperatures from transferring through to the interior of the home.

ENERGY STAR-Certified Appliances
ENERGY STAR-certified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use
10-50% less energy and water than standard models, and help you save money.

Smart Thermostats
Smart or learning thermostats are internet connected and automatically adjust the climate in your home based on outside conditions and your schedule. This reduces energy consumption and provides energy and cost savings.

Water-Efficient Faucets
Water-efficient faucets provide equal or better performance than conventional fixtures, while reducing water and heating costs.

LED and CFL Fighting and Fixtures
LED and CFL bulbs use up to 85% less energy, produce 75% less heat, and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. They are also safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with lighting and cooling a home.

Other Systems
Other systems such as geothermal heat, small wind energy and energy storage devices can be incorporated into a Net Zero Home depending on budget and site conditions.

As Pennsylvania home builders, we are always looking to improve the efficiency and impact our homes have on the environment. If you are interested in the possibilities a Net Zero Home can offer you, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

This article is Copyright © 2012 Chase Building Group, LLC.