Zero Energy Homes

Using solar energy principles and technology, Zero Energy Homes produce as much energy as they use.

What is a Zero Energy Home?

A Net Zero Energy Demonstration Home
Photo: Courtesy DOE/NREL

A Zero Energy Home, or ZEH, is designed and built for energy efficiency and generating its own energy. This results in a home that produces as much energy as it uses.

To reach a zero net energy usage goal, the two primary design targets of a ZEH are...

  • To decrease the home's demand for energy
  • To produce renewable energy on site

One last thing to keep in mind is that once the ZEH is built, the homeowners habits are key to reaching net zero energy use.

Energy Efficient Design

In order to decrease your home's demand for energy, you must design your home for energy efficiency.

You can achieve this using passive solar energy design principles...

  • Home Orientation
  • Shading
  • Insulation
  • Thermal Mass
  • Windows
  • Ventilation

Solar heating applications can also be used to efficiently heat your homes water and interior spaces.

Using ENERGY STAR appliances, efficient lighting, and a programmable thermostat are also key components of your homes system that can help it be more energy efficient.

Solar Energy Production

Energy efficient design will decrease the amount of energy your home will require. But to compensate for the electricity you use from the utility, your home will need to produce at least an equivalent amount of electricity. This can be accomplished using solar electricity applications.

Using solar power panels or solar shingles, your home will be able to generate its own solar power electricity. Combined with net-metering, any excess power your system generates will be delivered to your utility to offset any electricity they provide to you.

Homeowner Habits

However, in addition to the homes energy efficiency and energy production capability, there is a third critical element that is needed for a home to have net zero energy use. That third piece of the puzzle is the homeowner.

If homeowners aren't conscience about their energy use, a ZEH may not be possible. Keeping thermostats set appropriately, turning off lights when not in use, and using power strips to reduce phantom loads are some examples of actions that homeowners can take to reach a net zero energy usage.

Combining energy efficiency, solar energy production, and energy-wise homeowner habits, Net Zero Energy Homes are being built across the country.

Are you ready for yours?


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