As energy costs continue to rise, homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their monthly bills long-term. One solution that is gaining popularity is net-zero homes.
What is a net-zero home, though? Net-zero homes are highly energy-efficient and produce as much energy as they consume (or more) using renewable sources like solar power.
By incorporating energy-efficient features and systems throughout your home, you can minimize energy usage in heating, cooling, appliances, lighting and electronics, resulting in little to no monthly electricity bills.
Owning a net-zero home can offer greater indoor comfort, higher resale value, and energy independence, making it a wise long-term investment for homeowners like you.
What Does Net-Zero Mean?
We know that a net-zero home is one that has been specifically designed to generate an equal or greater amount of energy than it consumes by utilizing renewable energy sources like solar panels. But how can you be certain that a home is truly net-zero rather than just energy-efficient? Because, get this — there is a difference between the two.
A home’s energy efficiency can be determined by its rating on the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) scale, which ranges from 0 to 150. A net-zero home will have a HERS score of 0 or less, meaning it can generate as much energy (or more) as the home uses, resulting in low or no electricity costs for the homeowner.
This means that in order to qualify as “net-zero,” the home must be incredibly self-sufficient to the point where it does not require traditional energy sources such as the grid. However, net-zero homes can still be connected to the grid as a backup power source in case the house does not produce enough energy to meet the occupants’ needs. Generally, though, net-zero homes are built to exceed demand and keep the house functioning at all times.
How Are Net-Zero Homes Designed?
Net-zero homes are designed to minimize energy consumption and maximize energy production through renewable energy and energy-efficient features. An energy-efficient design begins with the building envelope — the home’s exterior structure and interior with high-performance insulation — separating the indoor and outdoor environments by creating an airtight seal.
A home’s windows are also a critical component of the building envelope — high-performance double-paned windows have two panes of glass that act as another layer of insulation between the panes. Double-pane windows not only improve a home‘s energy efficiency but also reduce the amount of noise coming in or out.
Typically, net-zero homes are designed to generate energy through solar panels that harness the sun’s power. These panels are installed on the roof or in the yard and connected to an inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that is then used to power your home.
Some net-zero homes also incorporate wind turbines or other renewable energy sources, like geothermal or hydropower, depending on the location and available resources.
In addition to high-performance insulation and double-pane windows, net-zero homes will typically also include:
- Air Sealing — to prevent drafts, air leaks and moisture from coming in.
- LED Lighting — high-quality illumination with minimal power consumption.
- Energy-Efficient Ventilation and Exhaust Fans — ensures proper air exchange and reduces reliance on mechanical cooling and heating systems.
- Pre-Wiring for Electric Vehicle Charging Station — circuits that are specifically designed to handle the power demands of EV chargers and simplify the future installation of an EV charging station.
- Energy-Efficient Appliances — that use less energy than traditional appliances
- Hybrid Water Heater — leverages the surrounding hot air (inside your garage, for example) to heat the water
- 16 SEER HVAC/Energy-Efficient HVAC/High-Performance HVAC — for a high-efficiency heating and cooling unit
Learn more about these energy-efficient, net-zero home features.
What Are the Benefits of Owning a Net-Zero Home?
If you plan to invest in a more energy-efficient home, it’s worth considering the benefits of owning a net-zero home. Here are some of the advantages you can expect to see when you make the switch to a net-zero home:
- Lower Energy Bills: Net-zero homes leave you with little to no electricity bills, which means you’ll save significantly on your monthly energy costs — this can add up to thousands of dollars saved over the long term. For example, Brite Homes homeowners see savings of about $2,000 yearly — that’s more than $20,000 in energy costs in 10 years!
- Environmental Benefits: By producing as much energy as they consume, net-zero homes greatly reduce your carbon footprint and help to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Reducing GHG significantly helps with air quality, atmospheric pollutants and slowing climate change.
- Greater Comfort: Net-zero homes are designed with your maximum comfort in mind and give you more control over your home while reducing maintenance upkeep. Windows help reduce noise pollution, ventilation systems improve indoor air quality and insulation keeps allergens and pollutants outside.
- Higher Resale Value: Net-zero homes are in high demand and tend to have a better resale value than traditional homes. Since they offer long-term energy savings and environmental benefits that appeal to many buyers, you can expect to sell your home quicker and get a higher cash out if you decide to sell someday.
- Energy Independence: With a net-zero home, you’re no longer dependent on the electrical grid. This makes you less vulnerable to power outages, uncontrollable price fluctuations and other issues that can affect the reliability and cost of traditionally powering your home.
Retrofitting Your Current Home vs. Getting a New Net-Zero Home Built
Let’s start with defining what it means to retrofit a home: Retrofitting a home to be net-zero means modifying an existing home to improve its energy efficiency and incorporate renewable energy sources to produce as much energy (or more) as it consumes.
Typically, retrofitting your home will involve adding insulation, upgrading windows, installing a solar panel system and other energy-efficient features. Remember, this process can be costly, time-consuming and challenging since it requires modifying an existing structure.
Additionally, your home may still not achieve the same level of energy efficiency and renewable energy generation as a home built from the ground up with net-zero features. However, retrofitting can be a viable option for homeowners who want to reduce their home’s energy consumption and environmental impact.
Conversely, constructing a new net-zero home involves designing and building a house with energy-efficient features and renewable energy systems integrated right from the start. This approach negates the need for costly, inconvenient and time-consuming retrofitting required in an existing home. This method gives homeowners greater control over their home’s energy performance, resulting in long-term energy savings and environmental benefits.
Ready to Build Your Net-Zero Brite Home in Florida?
Are you looking to decrease your energy expenses, lead a more environmentally conscious lifestyle and save a substantial amount of money? If so, switching to a net-zero home in Florida might be the perfect solution for you.
See how our net-zero energy homes can help you live on the bright side. Get started with Brite Homes by contacting us now to learn more about how a net-zero home can significantly reduce your monthly energy bills.