If you’re looking to purchase a home that is energy efficient, you’ll find nothing better on the market than a zero net energy (ZNE) home.
What is zero net energy?
It’s a home or building that produces as much energy as it uses. Which means it has no carbon footprint and no energy costs.
Zero net energy homes go beyond green living, combining advanced designs with energy efficient technologies, like solar panels, and air-tight materials to create the ultimate in comfortable, sustainable green living. They can range from mansions to tiny homes, in any style or location. And they save you money from day one, since you’ll never need to pay for energy, or deal with rising energy costs.
So if you’re considering upgrading to a solar powered home, you may want to take a look at what ZNE homes have to offer.
How Zero Net Energy Homes Work
Zero Net Energy (ZNE) homes are just like regular homes, but built to strict energy efficiency standards. Unlike your average home with solar panels, ZNE homes add other technologies and materials so that no energy is wasted.
Some common upgrades that help ZNE homes reach their ZNE status include:
- Air-sealing to reduce heating and cooling energy use and improve indoor air quality. This includes use of air-tight drywall, adhesive attachment of sheathing, and using large sheets of material to avoid extra gaps and joints.
- Super insulating of the walls, floors, and ceilings to reduce temperature fluctuations.
- Efficient water heating technology and water-saving appliances to reduce the amount of hot water used. This includes water-saving faucets, dishwashers, and laundry machines.
- Highly insulated windows and doors to control heat loss. Natural ventilation to reduce cooling in the summer. And insulated shades.
- Solar tempering, or using the sun to heat your home during winter by facing windows south and shading them in the summer.
- Energy efficient ventilation system for fresh, filtered air, including heat recovery ventilation or energy recovery ventilation systems, so that no heat is lost.
- Energy efficient heating and cooling systems.
- Energy efficient lighting, like LED lights and natural light.
- Energy efficient appliances and electronics, which make up 60% of the energy use, with the other 40% going to heating, cooling and hot water.
And, last but not least, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are the most cost-effective form of renewable energy, powering lights, heating, cooling, appliances, hot water, and all other needs.
A new study from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics LLC, found that residential customers are prioritizing ZNE homes and willing to pay higher premiums in order to own one.
Favorability for ZNE homes has reached record highs, with 98% of builders, 95% of buyers and 89% of remodelers finding them a good option. 83% of buyers and 89% of builders were likely to consider a ZNE home. And 84% of builders and 81% of remodelers were willing to pay 20-30% more for a ZNE home.
The future is bright for ZNE: 9 out of 10 builders expect demand to increase over the next decade or so.
Why are ZNE homes so popular?
Let’s take a look.
One of the biggest reasons to go ZNE is for the huge savings on energy bills. Since ZNE homes produce as much energy as they use, energy costs nothing, or next to nothing for the lifetime of the home. Plus, you avoid rising energy costs.
Even before rebates and incentives, your ZNE home is a better investment for your future.
Across the US, electric rates have risen an average of 3% per year, or 50% between 2002 and 2016. That’s a huge increase!
So while ZNE homes may cost 5-10% more compared to regular homes after incentives, the monthly energy savings will greatly outpace the added mortgage payment, making the total cost of owning a ZNE home less. You’ll get savings and positive cash flow from the very first month of ownership.
One case study from the Zero Energy Project showed an Oregon ZNE homeowner saving a cumulative $25,378 in energy costs over 15 years, versus the standard home’s energy cost burden of $35,278 over 15 years.
Would you rather be given $25,000 or pay $35,000? It’s a no-brainer!
The answer is crystal clear: zero net energy homes are worth every penny.
Curb Climate Change
The next biggest reason to go ZNE is to eliminate your negative affects on the environment. With ZNE, your home's carbon footprint will be zero, and that has a huge impact on curbing climate change.
Buildings are responsible for 40% of the energy used in the US.
If every building was built using solar panels and top energy efficiency standards, imagine how much carbon we could eliminate from the atmosphere?
By switching to renewable solar energy, you can help reduce dependence on fossil fuels that pollute our enivronment and are the leading cause of global warming.
Because ZNE homes are built to the highest efficiency and durable building standards, your house will last longer with less upkeep.
In addition, it’ll be quieter, more comfortable and healthier to live in. The air-tight design keeps out sounds, reduces temperature fluctuations, and requires high-quality ventilation, keeping your home fresh, cool, and peaceful. You’ll have less moisture, which means no mold or water damage, and the filtered air means less dust and fewer allergens.
What’s even better than zero energy? Positive energy!
If you conserve more electricity than you use, it’s possible to turn your zero energy home into a positive energy home, allowing you to use the excess energy for other things, such as charging an electric car, so you can be even greener.
Pair your solar system with a solar battery to store excess energy for backup use, and get the most out of every watt produced.
While we can't imagine why you'd ever want to leave, if you do decide to move out of your ZNE home, you can expect a great return from selling your home as well.
As studies have shown, energy efficient homes, including homes with solar panels, can sell for about 20% more than homes without. Plus, demand is high for these homes, so you’re more likely to sell your home quickly and easily.
Would you buy a zero net energy home? Leave a comment below!
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