Zero Energy Homes

An Introduction to Zero Energy Homes

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.
Net Zero Island Home Bainbridge Island is located near Seattle, Washington. It is home to approximately 26,000 people, including Lisa Martin who has always wanted to build a green home, but took it upon herself to build a net zero home after being inspired by a presentation on the topic by...
Green Building Thrives in a Down Economy Heather Ferrier’s family has been building for a long time. Her great grandfather was a stone mason who came over from Scotland and helped build the Texas state capital. Heather’s father Don has been building most of his life, and saw 20...
Not too long ago, a house that used 60% less energy than one built to code was called a near zero house. That was quite an accomplishment. A house that was this energy efficient could be constructed mostly with conventional materials and techniques but with more attention to details, such as air...
Download Chapter 1 - The Building Envelope for free. Read it and pass it on. The Edge house was built in Boulder Colorado in August 2008.This Net Zero Energy Home was build with a high degree of care and attention to detail especially the thermal envelope, and the mechanical and electrical...
Retrofitting an existing house for substantially better energy performance has its challenges, especially when the building is nearly a century old and home to both its owners and four student tenants. If the house is completely gutted from the inside, the project begins to resemble new...
Making the most of a site's solar potential is step one in the design process, coming even before any aesthetic sketches are developed. Orienting a building toward the sun, specifying the size and type of windows, and balancing light and thermal mass are all elements of passive solar design. Unlike...
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