What Items Should Be Avoided in a Zero Net Energy Home?

As more and more homeowners are interested in reducing their energy consumption, the term “zero net energy” has become increasingly popular. Zero net energy homes are designed to produce as much energy as they consume, typically through a combination of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures. But what items should be avoided if you’re aiming for a true zero net home? Here are a few things to avoid if you want to achieve zero net energy in your home.

What Items Should Be Avoided in Zero Net Energy Homes?

Inefficient Appliances

Certain appliances are more energy-intensive than others, and if you’re aiming for a zero-net home, it’s best to avoid them. Appliances such as older refrigerators, washers, dryers, and dishwashers may use significantly more electricity than their modern counterparts.

Poor Insulation

Proper insulation is essential for a zero-net home, as reducing heat transfer is key to cutting energy use. Poorly insulation can allow more of the home’s heating and cooling energy to escape. In contrast, you also want to ensure the home has balanced ventilation. A professional contractor or design company can assist you in designing a home that has both efficient insulation and ventilation.

Unsealed Doors and Windows

Similar to poor insulation, unsealed doors and windows can lead to excess energy loss. Air leaks will cause your home’s heating and cooling systems to work harder, resulting in increased energy consumption. A professional can check for drafts and seal any gaps around doors and windows with caulk or weatherstripping.

Old Windows

In addition to air leaks, old windows may simply not be designed to be as energy-efficient as modern offerings. If you’re aiming for a zero-net home, consider replacing any single-pane windows with double or triple-paned options. These options provide better insulation, resulting in less energy being wasted on heating and cooling.

Outdated Light Fixtures

Incandescent bulbs are the least efficient lighting option, so if you’re trying to get your home to zero net energy status, it’s best to switch to LED lights. LED stands for light emitting diode and is far more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. LED lights also last longer than traditional bulbs, saving you money in the long run.

Unused Spaces

Larger spaces, such as unfinished basements and storage attics, can be a huge drain on your energy bill. To maximize the efficiency of your zero-net home, it’s important to ensure these spaces are insulated and air-sealed properly. If you are building a zero-energy home, take into consideration how much space you will actually use, as the more space you have in your home, the more energy it will take to heat and cool it.

Outdated HVAC Equipment

If you’re looking to achieve true zero net energy status for your home, unnecessary, energy-wasting HVAC models should be top on the list when it comes to switching out aged equipment. Older heating and cooling systems can vary greatly in their levels of efficiency.

Naturally, these older units lose heat or cool air much faster than more modern models and come with significantly higher utility bills at the same time.

What To Include in a Zero Energy Home

If you’re working with a contractor or designer to build or renovate a zero-net home, certain items should be included. Different aspects of your home use more energy than others, so it is important to consider how they will be incorporated into the design. Here are a few items to include in zero net energy homes:

Renewable Energy Sources

One of the best ways to achieve zero net energy status is by using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power. A combination of different renewable sources can provide your home with enough electricity to meet its own needs, resulting in zero net energy usage. The most popular and cost-effective way to implement renewable energy sources is through solar panels.

Proper Insulation and Ventilation

Properly installed insulation can help keep your home’s temperature regulated and reduce energy consumption. On the other hand, good ventilation helps to ensure that fresh air is circulated throughout the home, improving comfort levels while reducing energy use.

Updated Light Fixtures

Furthermore, your home should include updated and energy-efficient light fixtures. LED lights are the most efficient option and will help to reduce your electricity bill while also providing good illumination levels. LED lights come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to customize your home’s lighting. A design company will be able to help you choose the type of LED lighting that is perfect for your home.

Smart Devices

Incorporating smart devices into a zero-net home can be an incredibly useful tool for reducing your environmental impact. By controlling lights, heating and cooling systems, shades, and other home appliances from your smartphone, you can use energy and reduce waste efficiently. Not only does this help the environment, but it also saves money on utility costs.

Smart devices allow you to monitor the temperature of your home so you can adjust settings more precisely than with traditional thermostats. Creating custom schedules based on daily routines can increase the efficiency of home systems without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

Efficient Water Management

Properly managing water in the home can go a long way towards achieving zero net energy status. It requires taking a hard look at how much water is being used and where there are opportunities to make changes. One of the most effective solutions is to switch out all shower heads and faucets for low-flow models, which not only reduces water consumption but also helps lower your monthly water bill.

When additional efficiency is desired, greywater recycling systems and rainwater harvesting can also be considered viable options. By making these changes, your home can gain an edge when it comes to energy savings while providing you with the benefit of cutting back on energy costs.

Efficient Appliances

With rising energy costs, efficient appliances are becoming a necessity rather than a luxury. Energy Star-rated items use less energy while offering the same performance as non-Energy Star appliances, helping you to save money on energy bills each month. Efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines are all investments in being energy savvy. Investing in efficient appliances is vital for saving money in the long run and helping to create a zero net energy status in your home.

Energy Saving Advantages for Properly Built Zero Net Homes

Reduced Energy Bills 

The primary benefit of zero-net homes is reduced energy bills. Since these homes generate their own electricity and use it efficiently, they require far less power from the grid than traditional homes do. This means your electricity bill will be significantly lower each month, saving you money while also helping reduce your environmental impact.

Increased Home Value 

Zero net homes also tend to increase in value more quickly than traditional houses do due to their increased efficiency. Buyers are increasingly aware of the benefits associated with green living, so having a home that produces its own power and uses it efficiently can make it more attractive in comparison to similar properties without these features.

Furthermore, since zero-net homes are built with high-quality materials and construction techniques, they tend to require less maintenance than traditional homes do and therefore have an inherent value advantage over them.

Improved Comfort Levels 

Zero-net homes can also provide improved comfort levels due to the use of renewable energy sources and efficient insulation. By installing solar panels and other forms of renewable energy, you’ll be able to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home year-round without worrying about high energy bills or reliance on the grid.

Environmentally Friendly 

By utilizing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal, you can power your home while freeing yourself from the reliance on fossil fuels. Also, installed with updated appliances that promote water and energy efficiency, along with smart thermostats, will put you on the path towards consuming fewer resources. The combination of these measures will result in fewer greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, resulting in a huge reduction in your impact on the environment.

Increased Resilience 

Finally, zero-net homes are generally more resilient during natural disasters or power outages due to their ability to generate their own power. Traditional homes rely on external sources such as the electric grid or gas lines for heat and electricity, but zero-net homes don’t need those sources. They can produce their own power regardless of what’s happening outside.

This makes them more reliable during times of emergency or disruption and gives homeowners peace of mind knowing that they won’t have to worry about losing power when disaster strikes.  

Achieving a zero net energy status is possible if the right steps are taken. By avoiding inefficient appliances, poorly insulated walls, unsealed doors and windows, and old windows, homeowners can make strides in reducing their energy consumption. By making an effort to avoid these items when building or renovating your home, you can significantly reduce its environmental footprint and save money on electricity bills. Contact us at Hutter Architects today to get started on your green home today.