Energy costs are one of the primary concerns for most homeowners, regardless of where they live. Reducing energy costs is a worthwhile pursuit both for the environment and for your pocketbook, but what many people do not realize is that the best way to save on energy costs is by planning ahead and building an environmentally friendly home. Although there are many excellent choices when it comes to green housing, the one that will do the most for your energy bills is a Net-Zero home. Unfortunately, not many people are familiar with Net-Zero homes, including their construction process. Keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to Net-Zero home building, and how you can find the right Net-Zero home builder for you.
#1 What are Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Net-Zero energy homes are houses that have been specifically designed and built to produce just as much energy as they consume, if not more. Through a combination of energy saving appliances, tight insulation and renewable energy sources like solar panels and geothermal systems, a Net-Zero home effectively eliminates your energy costs and environmental impact on the world, hence the name. Choosing a Net-Zero energy home is perfect for both environmentally and cost-conscious homeowners.
Builder Tip: Before you start making plans to build a Net-Zero energy home, take an inventory of exactly how much energy you use in a typical month. This will give you a better idea as to how efficient your home needs to be and how it should be designed.
#2 What are the Benefits of Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Net-Zero energy homes come with many benefits, making them attractive for a wide range of homeowners. Firstly, Net-Zero homes produce no carbon emissions, helping to protect the environment. Secondly, thanks to governmental credits for building such homes, Net-Zero homes are extremely affordable to build. Finally, because of the filtration systems, Net-Zero homes can help to contribute to your family’s health.
Builder Tip: If you are considering Net-Zero home building but haven’t made a firm decision, consult a qualified Net-Zero builder to go over the long list of benefits you will experience with this type of home.
#3 How do Net-Zero Energy Homes Compare to Other Green Homes?
Answer: Net-Zero homes have many advantages over other types of green homes you may choose. While other green homes may have one or two energy saving solutions, they do not take the comprehensive approach of Net-Zero homes. Because of tax incentives and the almost total removal of energy costs, Net-Zero homes are often much cheaper to own in the long term, and their value actually increases over time, unlike many other types of green home.
Builder Tip: Investigate the tax incentives offered by your state for Net-Zero home building to get a better idea of how valuable a Net-Zero home will be compared to standard or other green homes.
#4 What are the Best Ways to Design a Net-Zero Energy Home?
Answer: The most important step in designing a Net-Zero home is consulting with a Net-Zero home builder. A builder that is already familiar with building these type of homes will be able to advise on the best design choices you can make, and will understand such factors as maximizing your homes exposure to sunlight and the right types of materials to use. Qualified Net-Zero builders can also help you pick the optimal location for your home, which is a key step in design and construction.
Builder Tip: Come into your Net-Zero home consultation with some ideas for your home, and some questions that you need clarification on. This will make sure that you get the most out of your meeting and that you will get the right home design for you.
#5 What Types of Building Material Are Used?
Answer: Building materials are the items that make a Net-Zero home what it is. Double insulation is key in controlling the flow of heat in and out of your home, as is the walling material, often a type of insulated concrete or double paneling. Specially designed windows and doors are used to make your home as airtight as possible. The last step will be installing low energy, high-efficiency appliances to lower your energy consumption.
Builder Tip: Consulting the EPA’s Energy Star guidelines can help you easily find the right appliances for your Net-Zero energy home prior to the construction process.
#6 Using Energy and Cost Modeling to Increase Energy Efficiency?
Answer: Employing energy and cost modeling is integral in making sure that you are constructing your Net-Zero home in the most cost effective, energy saving manner possible. Analyzing the location where you want to build, and the weather that this location experiences throughout the year will let you know what areas of energy efficiency you should focus on during the construction process. Using this modeling in the middle of your build is allows you to see if you are still on the right track.
Builder Tip: Since energy and cost modeling can be difficult for some people, letting an experienced Net-Zero home builder guide you through the process is advisable.
#7 What Type of Energy Efficient Building Envelopes Should Be Used?
Answer: Building envelopes encompass every item that separates the inside of your home from the outside. In Net-Zero energy homes, building envelopes that manage the flow of heat into and out of your home are the ideal. The right building envelope will minimize heat loss in your home while blocking moisture and promoting proper air circulation.
Builder Tip: Your Net-Zero home builder will be able to advise you on the right type of building envelope for your home. This will mostly be based the climate your home will be built in, as well as the weather the location typically experiences every year.
#8 How is Thermal Bridging Used with Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Thermal bridging is the process wherein heat is able to escape your home thanks to inconsistencies in your building material, most usually in the wall studs. In Net-Zero homes, thermal bridging is addressed in a number of ways, most notably through advanced framing techniques that reduce the places where heat may escape. Specially designed windows and doors that promote the air tightness home are also one of the ways your Net-Zero home builder will try to prevent thermal bridging.
Builder Tip: Have your Net-Zero home builder go over your design to identify areas that are most vulnerable to thermal bridging.
#9 Should I Install Home Energy Monitoring Systems?
Answer: Yes, an energy monitoring system is your most important tool in making sure that your Net-Zero home is as energy efficient as possible. More so than your electricity bill, an energy monitoring system will help tell you exactly which areas of your home tend to use the most energy. This will help you to more fully understand where your energy is going, giving you an idea of where and how you can cut back to be as energy efficient as possible.
Builder Tip: Use your energy monitoring system to identify the areas of your home that consume the most energy and ask your Net-Zero home builder the best way to address this.
#10 What Types of Doors Are Installed in Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: In most homes, doors are one of the biggest cause of heat and energy loss thanks to loose seals and non-insulated material. In Net-Zero energy homes, doors made of fiberglass are common, as these doors are resistant to heat transfer. The doors in your home will also be installed with a close to airtight seal, an additional layer of protection from the energy loss associated with most doors.
Builder Tip: If you do not like the look of fiberglass doors, ask your Net-Zero home builder what is another type of energy efficient door material that you could use in your home.
#11 What Types of Windows Are Installed in Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Triple pane windows are the most commonly used type in Net-Zero energy homes, although some types of two pane windows are acceptable, depending on how resistant they are to energy transfer. Windows that have multi-point locking systems, instead of traditional sliders, should also be used in Net-Zero homes because they make it much more difficult for heat to escape. The frame profiles in Net-Zero energy homes will be smaller, because larger frames are susceptible to thermal bridging.
Builder Tip: Windows are one of the vulnerable points in your home when it comes to heat loss, so it is important to limit the amount of windows in your home relative to your floor space. Over half of your windows should be located on the south side of your house.
#12 Do You Install Solar Power in Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Yes, solar panels are one of the most important parts of your Net-Zero home because they will be the focal point of your renewable energy production. Solar photovoltaic panels will be installed in the optimal position on your home to collect the sun’s energy and transform it into electricity. The electricity produced by your home’s solar PV panels will be used for everything from powering the lights in your home, to heating your water and keeping your home toasty in the winter.
Builder Tip: Talk to your builder before construction about the best place to construct your home that is exposed to the most sunlight possible every day. This will make sure that your solar PV panels collect enough solar energy to fully power your home.
#13 Should an ERV or HRV System Be Installed?
Answer: The filtration system installed in your Net-Zero energy home will largely depend on the type of climate you live in. ERV systems are more suited to drier climates, as these systems can also control the humidity in the air. HRV systems, on the other hand, are an ideal choice for Net-Zero homes where humidity levels are not a concern. Whichever system you choose for your home, you will experience superior ventilation and air quality.
Builder Tip: Ask your Net-Zero builder whether climate is a concern in choosing the ventilation system for your home. If it is, have them help you pick the right system for you.
#14 What Type of Lighting Should Be Installed in Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: The lighting that is installed in your Net-Zero home should provide high functionality while using as little energy as possible. Compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights are the most common lighting installed in Net-Zero energy homes. Not only are they extremely energy efficient, but they are also much longer lasting than traditional light bulbs and provide ample light output.
Builder Tip: When building your home, make sure to get enough windows installed that your home gets a lot of natural light during the day. This will reduce your dependence on artificial lighting and lower your energy usage.
#15 What are the Best Appliances for Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Appliances in Net-Zero homes, generally speaking, should meet the government’s Energy Star recommendations for high performance and low energy consumption. Low flow shower heads, high-efficiency toilets and an efficient heating and cooling system are all recommended for Net-Zero homes. Your home energy monitoring system will help to give you a good idea of what appliances in your home use the most energy and should be changed out.
Builder Tip: When purchasing your appliances for your Net-Zero home, make sure only to get Energy Star-certified items. If you are unsure about the efficiency of a particular appliance, consult your home builder.
#16 What Type of Heating and Cooling System Should Be Used?
Answer: In Net-Zero homes, the heating and cooling system often should be specifically tailored to the construct of the home to maximize energy efficiency. The most common and useful heating and cooling system for your Net-Zero home is a ductless heat pump system with mini-splits. A heat pump is one of the most energy effective, high-performance ways to heat and cool your Net-Zero home, no matter what climate you live in.
Builder Tip: Make sure to incorporate your heating and cooling system into your home design and energy cost modeling. This will save you a great deal of time and money down the road.
Learn More: Geothermal Energy Home System for Green Living
#17 Are There Building Restrictions for Net-Zero Energy Homes?
Answer: Net-Zero homes do have specific building restrictions required to be designated Net-Zero. Specifically, these restrictions have to do with the energy saving materials used in the construction of the home and having a plan for responsible water consumption, management and disposal. Adhering to the Department of Energy guidelines when building your home will ensure that you receive a Net-Zero designation.
Builder Tip: The water consumption plan is often the most difficult portion of constructing a Net-Zero home, so make sure you and your builder have a plan for responsible water usage in place before you begin construction.
#18 Do I Need a Special Permit to Build a Net-Zero Energy Home?
Answer: Depending on the state and city you live in, you may have to acquire a special building permit before being allowed to begin construction on your Net-Zero energy home. These permits often deal with the broader category of green home permits and have restrictions based on how the land will be used, as well as your plan for energy efficiency. Granting of permits can sometimes be a drawn out process, so obtaining your permit for your Net-Zero home should be one of your top priorities.
Builder Tip: In your initial consultation, ask your Net-Zero builder if the area that you live in requires special building permits for this type of home. If so, your builder may be able to point you towards the easiest manner of acquiring your permit.
#19 How Much Does It Cost to Build a Net-Zero Energy Home?
Answer: Thanks to governmental incentives, Net-Zero homes are just as affordable as standard homes, costing usually about five percent more than a standard home. The added upfront cost of Net-Zero homes generally is related to customizations to make it as energy efficient as possible. However, after tax rebates and other incentives, the price of your Net-Zero home will be greatly reduced, and the low operating costs will more than offset the additional front end prices.
Builder Tip: Because Net-Zero homes are so energy efficient, they often cost a great deal less to own in the long term. This means that spending money during construction to make your home as energy efficient as possible will end up essentially paying for itself.
#20 How Long Does It Take to Build a Net-Zero Energy Home?
Answer: Owing to the process of setting up an entirely new energy system, Net-Zero homes can be somewhat time-consuming to construct compared to traditional models. Six to eight months is not uncommon, and it can sometimes take longer depending on your home design. Patience and a commitment to energy efficiency are key when undergoing the construction of a Net-Zero home.
Builder Tip: Make sure to plan construction of your Net-Zero home for the warmer months of the year. This will work towards ensuring that your Net-Zero home is finished by winter when you will need energy efficiency the most.
#21 How Do I Find a Qualified Net-Zero Energy Home Construction Company?
Answer: The most important aspect of building your Net-Zero home is hiring the right construction company. You want to choose a company that is certified to build a Net-Zero home and has a long history of doing so. Ask specific questions to the builder so that you hire the right company for the job.
Builder Tip: Peak One Builders has a long track record of constructing Net-Zero homes and can help you through the process from start to finish.
Net-Zero Home Building Made Simple
Now that you more fully understand the process of Net-Zero home building, it might be time to consider building your home to the highest energy standards possible. You’ll be amazed at the energy savings and the quality work you’ll get from hiring the right get Scottsdale AZ Net-Zero Energy home builders for your new home. Now is the best time to reduce your energy costs and overall carbon footprint.
Contact the Net-Zero Energy home building experts at Peak One Builders & Restoration to learn more about creating a custom cutting-edge green home. Request a free estimate or call 480-378-0611 now!