Zero Energy Builders have different methods and materials available to choose from,but all have one goal in mind, to build a home that produces as much Energy as it consumes on a yearly basis. For example; one approach to “Zero Energy Construction” would be to take an existing home, built to existing standards and add enough of a renewable means of energy production to satisfy the homes yearly consumption. Once you have done this you have a “Zero Energy Home” or “Net Zero Home”.
Easy you say, why doesn’t everyone do it! Well the problem is that today’s “code compliant homes” are so inefficient and poorly executed, the heating and cooling demands are enormous. Newly strengthened energy codes (UBEC), while a significant improvement, still fall flat of air sealing and insulation practices that are needed for high performance construction. Therefore, you would need a solar arraying costing $50,000 – $60,000 or more, to entirely satisfy a normal homes insatiable yearly apatite for energy. There is also the inconvenient fact that, just the space needed to mount the 50 or so solar panels would take up every inch of your south facing roof and yard, and maybe some of the neighbor’s yard too. With such a large upfront investment, a 10-12 year payback period on said investment, and the space constraints you can see why this is an impractical way to get to Zero Energy.
Most people that have opted to install Photo Voltaic solar, have done so just to offset part or possibly all of their domestic electricity use, with no impact on heating costs. These arrays are generally 2KW-4KW is size, and cost between $7,000 – $18,000 installed, and are mostly roof mounted. The payback period is also around 10-12 years at current electric rates. In standard homes heat is normally supplied via alternate fuel source, and dissipated to the outside at staggering rates.
Our Net Zeros are built using advanced framing and insulation techniques, as well as controlled mechanical ventilation and air sealing, combined with electrically driven heat pumps and super efficient electric hot water heaters. We are able to bring the total energy demand so low that a 2KW-4Kw solar array provides enough energy for all the homes heating, cooling, hot water, and domestic electric usage annually. Hence the terms; Zero Energy and Net Zero.
The Beauty is that the additional upfront cost when building New Construction Net Zero homes is only around 10% – 15% more than standard construction. All the materials are the same, there is just a bit more of them used, and they are assembled slightly different. Any standard or custom plan can be built as a Net Zero, in all budget ranges. The additional 10-15% investment is payed back within 3-7 years. Every Year after the payback threshold, Zeros become cheaper than standard construction homes. This is truly the epitome of Fixed cost living, the only variable will be your tax bill!