Today, as the building codes have become more stringent and the need to conserve energy has become a priority, many energy efficiency programs have come into action to build zero-energy homes.
Let us understand what zero-energy homes are. The definition of a zero energy home has evolved over the years. In simple words, a zero energy home is a structure designed to produce as much or more energy as it consumes annually.
What Exactly is a Zero-Energy building?
Zero-energy buildings can be categorized into two ways: A zero-energy building is an energy-efficient building that produces the amount of energy that is either equal to or greater than the energy it takes from the utilities. This also includes the energy losses made during energy generation and transmission by using sustainable material. Metal Building Homes are also considered as zero energy buildings, as they are very sustainable and cost-effective.
The second category is zero-energy-ready buildings. These buildings are highly efficient buildings with onsite energy, but these buildings lack solar energy that makes them truly zero-energy.
Building a zero-energy home is not an impossible task. You can make a zero-energy structure without any hassles, and that too very cost-effectively.
Want to know how? Keep on reading till you make up your mind to build one.
Begin With a Smart Design
Zero net energy homes begin with an intelligent design. The designer, builders, homebuyers, and the architects involved in the project should be well acquainted with the steps to build a zero-energy home. The zero-energy homes should be designed in such a way that the builders can affordably build them. Proper communication between a designer and a builder is important. There are many design parameters that builders should ask the designer to focus on while designing the zero-energy home. Proper communication ensures that critical details don’t fall through the cracks while building a zero-energy home.
Getting a Right Team for the Project
Designing a net-zero energy home is a complex, data-driven process, so you must bring together a team of experts to build it. In addition to the architect, most design teams involve an energy consultant, who builds a model to predict the performance of your home, and a mechanical engineer, who ensures that you have the most efficient HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system.
The greater the complexity of the project, the greater is the demand for a skilled contractor. With multiple players on the market, it is imperative to bring together the right team and outline the goals from the beginning itself. Remember, your building team will directly affect the design and effectiveness of your net-zero-energy home.
Use Sunlight for Solar Tempering
Using the sunlight for heating through south-facing windows during the winters would lower the heating costs. During the summers, the same windows can be covered or given a shed to bring down the cooling costs. Solar-energy tempering is an effective way to optimize the passive use of the sun’s heat without incurring the added cost of thermal mass needed to achieve maximum passive solar heating. It is crucial to address solar energy tempering during the design phase of the zero energy home.
Sealing and Insulation
Thoroughly sealing and insulating the envelope is an important step in building a zero energy home that stays protected against moisture and air intrusion.
There are many ways to insulate and seal the building to make it a zero-energy home within a particular budget.
Along with sealing, it is also important to insulate the home’s floors, ceilings, and walls. The energy modeling software can help you and your builder pick the best insulation materials for your home’s envelope.
Make sure you give special attention to sealing and insulation around the doors and windows that are located at vulnerable spots.
Ask your builder to select the right door and window size and ensure proper placement to balance the energy losses and gains.
Find Out Renewables
Once the electrical loads are reduced with the help of energy-reducing strategies, you can look for renewable energy sources to further conserve energy. These sources would be solar panels, either mounted on the rooftop or in a ground array in most cases. Other on-site energy generators—like wind, geothermal, or hydropower—are more challenging to use at the domestic level and even expensive and hard to analyze.
Save Energy By Using High-Efficiency Appliances
Usually, in net-zero energy homes, half of the energy consumption goes to heating and cooling of the air and water, and these appliances make up to 60% of that amount. It is important to save energy and install net-zero appliances that are protected against ‘phantom’ energy loss. You also might be unaware of the fact that phantom electrical loads continuously sap energy through an appliance’s plugs, whether you are using the device or not.
Use Lighting That is Energy-Efficient
Minimized energy usage for lighting is an important feature of zero-energy homes. LED lights are the perfect choice to save energy. LED lights are more efficient than CFL’s. They last for many years and do not contain mercury. Also, LED lights come in a wide variety, from bright white light to soft, warm light. The proper selection of the lights, effective placement, and utilization of natural lights can bring a drastic change in the energy consumption level of your home.
Save Energy Because the Future is What You Build in the Present
These seven steps are the tricks to consume less energy and build net-zero-energy homes. The right lighting, proper insulation, a skilled team of builders, architects, and other workmen can give you the most affordable net-zero-energy home.
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