You might have heard of a Net Zero home in the news or read about it in a magazine. So, what is it? A Net Zero home means that a house produces as much energy as it consumes. Energy consumption within a building is rated using the HERS index (Home Energy Rating System.) Reaching a 0 rating means the home is completely self-sustaining. A typical house has a HERS rating of 100-130.
A Net Zero house minimizes energy use within a house and any energy that it needs, it produces through renewable energy systems like solar panels. Therefore, the house is not dependent on getting its energy from an outside producer. It is self-sufficient. Sound pretty nice? Well, below are some ways that you can incorporate some of the Net Zero concepts into your home:
Footprint: Utilizing a modest building footprint and not over-building for your needs may be a first good step. The larger and more spread out a building is, the more energy it will consume.
Climate Responsiveness: Employ passive design techniques such as south-facing windows that promote natural heating and daylighting. Also, limiting east/west exposure in hot climates helps to reduce cooling loads.
Quality Construction: Incorporating good building practices such as correct flashing, sealing, framing, effective insulation, etc. to achieve a super-tight envelope is important. Quality of the construction should be integral to the design and really helps to minimize envelope loads.
Systems Sizing: Integrating and sizing systems efficiently including heating, cooling, ventilation and dehumidification can really help to optimize the building’s performance.
Renewable Energy: Homes need to utilize on-site renewable/alternative energy to generate power and heat. Solar panels, fuel cells, micro-turbines, etc. can be used to make and store energy to meet critical energy loads.
These are just a few of the more important avenues to reach a home that is completely self-sufficient and considered Net Zero. By studying these important concepts we can produce a house that is much less energy reliant and contains a much smaller carbon footprint.