Near Zero energy homes use approximately 90% less energy than a conventional home. The housing market accounts for 20% of the US energy use. At a time when energy costs are rising at 5% per year, the near elimination of utility bills is very appealing to the general public.
Net Zero energy homes typically cost more to build than conventional construction, but cost much less over their lifetime. As demand for these homes grows, and the techniques of how they are built spreads, the initial cost will drop. Zero energy homes are typically built with many of the same materials as standard home, but there is significant more emphasis placed on insulation and air sealing. Until it does become the standard, pioneers across the country are working to spread the work and to get more building professionals on board with the movement.
While zero energy homes are still rare in the US, their popularity is growing and many experts say that this is the way all homes will be built in the future. We will be sharing some case studies in the next couple of days.
Download from Toward a Zero Energy Home Chapter 1 - The Building Envelope for free. Read it and pass it on.
Getting to Zero
- The single best way to keep energy costs down and performance up is to tighten up the building envelope. That entails using the appropriate energy modeling software during the design phase.
- Airtight construction and limiting thermal bridging losses drive framing decisions.
- By using materials that don't allow air movement, much of mold growth can be prevented.
- It is not enough just to insulate to meet minimum code standards. Insulation should be upgraded in conjunction with window and mechanical equipment to bring the whole house to 15 percent better than local building codes. Insulation is the best investment you can make.