Building zero energy homes is something that we all need to embrace for the future. As time goes on, we all need to become more sustainable in our practices. The use of fossil fuels is going to become archaic, and the more suitable, low-energy alternatives are not just for eco-homes, they are for the homes of the future. In this guide, we’ve discussed some of the steps to building and designing zero energy homes.
What makes an energy-efficient home different?
It helps to understand what actually constitutes an energy-efficient home first and foremost. In simple terms, energy efficiency is doing more around your home with the use of less energy, or energy that is responsibly and sustainably sourced. For example, you might want to find a way to generate your own power to use, or you may look to use methods of cooking, heating, cooling, and running your home that don’t rely on using huge amounts of fossil fuels.
Use the Sun for Solar Tempering
Because you are designing from the ground up, you can think about things like how the sun is getting into your house. Having south facing windows helps with solar tempering, so you can use the sun to heat your home even in the winter. This can reduce the heating costs and the need for spending money on heating system repair.
Start with Smart Design
Zero net energy homes need a strong design to start with. This means working with builders, architects and other professionals who are able to give the energy usage of your home the attention it needs and prepare the house in a way that is robust, but also that doesn’t use more energy than required.
This often means careful planning, a step that shouldn’t be rushed. You can even work with specific eco-friendly builders to create a low or zero energy house.
Optimize with Energy Modeling
This is another example of using technology to your advantage. Using sophisticated software, you can career out energy modeling to see roughly how much energy the home will be using from one day to the next. This can help you to make different choices about how the home is designed, or modify the way you are doing things to reduce potential energy usage. These tools use technology to work out how big a space is, and how much it is likely to cost to heat and cool.
Super-Seal the Building Envelope
This is a great example of one of the reasons why you need to work with professionals such as architects and specific zero-energy building companies. The “building envelope” is all about keeping the air within your home, and stopping air transfer between indoors and outdoors. You could be spending money on heating or cooling your home, or enjoying the benefits of solar tempering, and find that you lose that energy and benefit just by having a home that doesn’t have a sealed envelope. Just one gap in the thermal boundary of a property can make a huge impact, so it is vital that you take the time, and put in the effort, to get this step spot on.
Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors
Just like the thermal boundary, your windows and doors are another way in which energy can escape, turning your home into a money pit when it comes to spending on heating and cooling. It is worth the extra money to get some very high-quality, insulated windows and doors to keep all this energy locked inside.
Select an Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling System
Spending money on heating system repair and installation is something we all have to deal with from time to time. Your heating and cooling system is vital, especially if you live in a place where extreme temperatures are the norm.
There are systems you can implement that make life easier in this respect. For instance, a ductless heat pump doesn’t have the same high costs associated with thermal heat pumps or the failings of some central systems which let hot or cool air escape. This is another area you can discuss with a designer to make sure you are as close as possible to zero energy when using your heating.
Heat Water Wisely
You may not realise, but heating water is actually the biggest expense for most homes, and the biggest expenditure when it comes to energy. This makes it even more important to heat water wisely. One of the very best things you can do is to keep hot water use to a minimum, and practice good habits with your water use in general, but there are also things that can keep the cost of heating water down.
Solar thermal water heaters can be a great choice for bigger households, and though they may cost a fair amount to install, they can save money in the long run, especially if you get a quality thermal system.
Install Energy Efficient Lighting
There is really no excuse for not having energy efficient lighting nowadays. The older bulbs that would’ve been installed in homes 20-30 years ago really guzzled electricity, but modern lighting uses LEDs and should not be inefficient. You can buy energy saving bulbs and be sure that they are only using the bare minimum. Smart light systems might also turn off automatically when required.
There are many creative solutions for you to ensure you create a zero energy home, and the techniques are gradually becoming cheaper as they become more mainstream. It is important that you think about the best methods for your house, and the size of it. This might mean discussing with the professionals. Many builders and architects are now specializing in zero energy homes, which makes sense when you consider the fact that most houses are now going to have to be built with far more concern for the environment. Follow our steps to build and design an affordable and responsible home.