A net-zero energy home is a structure that creates enough energy to make up for all the energy being used by that home. This method of building homes and using energy cuts down the usage of energy that cannot be renewed. The practice of building energy-efficient homes is growing in popularity all around the world. Its money-saving and environmental advantages are driving homebuilders to make their dwellings smart and sustainable.
Energy Efficiency is In
What makes homes energy efficient primarily depends on what type of electricity and water sources the home runs on. Making a home energy efficient could include anything from using solar panels to generate electricity to low-flow water fixtures to conserve water. The cost to build completely net-zero energy homes is roughly $10 a square foot extra compared to a typical non-energy-efficient home, but the benefits of a clean-energy lifestyle far outweigh that added upfront cost. Homeowners can look forward to saving up to $125 to $200 per month on their energy bills while feeling proud of their contribution to clean energy.
There are a variety of common and uncommon materials that can be used in the construction of net-zero energy homes. Contractors will often say that metal roofing is considered key to net zero energy homes because of how they behave in certain environments. For colder climates, opt for an unpainted metal roof. When metal lacks paint, it tends to hold more heat, thus keeping your home warmer. In warmer climates, however, the decision to install pre-painted or granular-coated metal will allow your home to stay cooler on the hottest days of the year. Overall, metal roofs reduce heating and air costs by 40 percent.
Stay Safe and Comfortable in an Energy-Efficient Home
If you live in a region prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, then hollow concrete blocks can be the right choice for your home’s construction. These blocks allow for heat to be stored and released at a much slower rate than timber or metal while also giving air flow to the structure.
Building double-insulated and double-stud walls is a good way to cut back on heating and cooling bills. There are many ways to go about this method of energy saving. Simply up the “R number” on the insulation panels or spray insulation and double the amount between the outside and inside walls of the home.
Designing Your Energy-Efficient Home
Size: The first thing to consider when building a net-zero energy home is to think about the size of your home. Knowing that you will have to heat and cool an entire house under sustainable conditions is a whole different game than building a regular house run by energy generated from electric companies. If you have a limited budget for your home, as most people do, veer for a minimalist design for your home. Add only the necessary bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your family in the coziest, simplest way possible. You can always build on and add extras later on, but getting the main parts of the home up to sustainable standards without going over budget is the most important part of building your new home.
Sun positions: Another thing to consider during your home-building project is the position of the sun. This idea is two-fold: Rooms that lie in the southernmost part of a home tend to be warmer, and solar panels need the most sun possible. Figuring out the sun’s position and which directions your home will face will save you trouble, and money, in the long run.
Roof type: Two main designs of roofs will offer each of their own benefits to an energy-efficient home. The most popular options are flat or pitched roofs. Building a flat roof onto your home will help to prevent the wind from wearing down on your structure. This type of roof also keeps the home well-insulated due to the fact that the ceilings tend to be lower in the house. Installing a pitched roof is helpful if you’re using solar panels because the panels can be placed on either slant of the roof and catch the maximum amount of sun that’s available throughout the day.
Where to Build a Net-Zero Energy Home
Choosing where to build your home is also important for getting the most energy efficiency. One unconventional place to build a home is in a dugout; this style of home is also called a berm house. This type of house is built into the side of a hill with only one side of the home exposed. Berm houses are energy efficient because the earth covering the structure naturally assists with heating and cooling. You can also install windmills or solar panels easily on this type of home. Other location options are near a mountain or hills for optimal wind coverage. Building out in the woods provides natural, cooling shade.
Appliances and Fixtures
There are a variety of additional features you can add to your home to ensure that your home functions using net-zero energy. Why not add a composting or incinerating toilet to each bathroom? Using little to no water, along with almost zero electricity, these toilets come in modern and fashionable designs that still offer the quality design and comfort of regular commodes. Other fixtures to incorporate into your energy-efficient home are low water-pressure shower heads and faucets that conserve water. Also use energy-efficient lighting options, like LED lighting strips and bulbs.
Add a rainwater harvest system to your home and collect water each time it rains. This will save you a lot of money on your water bill each year. Solar panels are amazing to keep your electricity bill low, and so are windmills that generate electricity. Lastly, using a green roof by planting sod and flowers on your roof is not only eco-friendly, but it also keeps your home warm and cool throughout the year.
The list of options for a net-zero energy home is endless. From choosing the materials with which to build to choosing the major appliances in your home, each element is important. You can be eco-friendly and enjoy saving money all at the same time with your new energy-efficient house.
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