What Is a Net-Zero Home? Plus, How to Get One
We did a special event at my house this summer teaching this same recipe for getting homes to net zero or as close as possible. We hope you get there.
How Does a Home Reach Net Zero or Net Positive?Net-zero homes achieve their energy efficiency by working from the very start with this goal in mind. There are two sides to this equation — the home design must be as energy efficient as possible so they require less energy and then it must maximize the use of on-site energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal so they produce enough energy to power the home on their own, achieving a net zero in-take of grid energy.
While energy efficiency and renewable energy are the main components, working from a holistic design is principle to achieving a net zero or often called a zero energy home. This is accomplished by working with the site, the climate, and taking advantage of renewable energy sources. This is why net-zero homes are typically newly built, not retrofitted. Although building materials and systems are extremely important to achieving zero energy, beginning with a smart design can be paramount to a successful outcome.
Many homes begin with the passive design model. Passive design utilizes the climate and surroundings of a home to ensure that the energy needs are very limited. For example, a home may be designed with awnings that shade the high sun in the summer helping to reduce energy required for cooling and at the same time using solar for natural day-light heating and air flow for cooling can greatly reduce the need for systems to achieve a comfortable home climate.
All "off-grid" homes are net zero, but net zero encompasses a larger category, since zero energy homes are typically attached to the energy grid. There may be times that a net zero home pulls more energy from the grid than it is producing, although it will make the difference up during periods of lower energy use.