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Net Zero Energy Homes

Net Zero Energy Homes

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From geodesic dome houses to straw houses, trends in green home remodeling continue to evolve. Now the next big thing in energy efficient home building, net-zero energy homes, ups the stakes even more. Net-zero energy homes (NZEH) or zero energy homes (ZEH) are causing a stir among environmentalists, builders associations and homeowners for their amazing prospects in green living and their increasingly stylish designs. Not only are these homes a great friend to the environment, they're bringing the functionality and comfort of green living to a whole new level.

What's in a Net-Zero Energy Home?

Loosely determined by a zero net energy consumption, net-zero energy homes are designed to produce as much or more energy than they consume. They are built to facilitate energy efficiency on a holistic scale, and they implement green construction materials, green building practices, green appliances, and most importantly, green design features such as:

  • Electric solar panels with photovoltaic cells
  • Geothermal heating pumps
  • Wind turbines
  • Passive solar heating and cooling
  • Solar water heaters
  • Water recycling systems

These are just a few of the many sustainable feature possibilities available for green homeowners today. The more green features and appliances added to a home, the closer it will get to net-zero energy status!

The Benefits of Zero Energy Buildings

For homeowners, the biggest benefits of net-zero energy homes include overall energy sustainability and reduction in energy costs, not to mention their environmental sustainability. More specifically, a ZEH can mean:

  • Exemption from fluctuations in local energy prices
  • Reduction of or an end to energy bills
  • Energy credits given by local power suppliers
  • Reusing and recycling sustainable materials to avoid resource waste
  • Recouping costs of green material investments

Obviously, the extent to which homeowners build up their home on a green scale will determine whether or not it's actually a net-zero energy home. By confirming certain criteria, such as using Energy Star-approved fixtures and appliances, and by checking your energy systems through professional associations, like the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC), you can ascertain if your home is in fact a net-zero energy home in totality.

The popularity of net-zero energy building has taken off so much that it's being implemented for both residential living and for commercial structures. In 2009, Michael Yannell and specialized Chicago home contractors finished building the first luxury net-zero energy home in Chicago, IL. Completely outfitted with energy efficient touches, the Yannell home is equipped with solar photovoltaic panels, triple-paned windows, a thermal insulation "rain screen" on the home's exterior, a geothermal pump system, a green roof to absorb stormwater, a "gray water" recycling system, and even kitchen countertops and wall tiles made from completely recycled materials.

On the commercial side of things,more green ground will be broken in 2010, when the Pearl River Tower skyscraper will be completed in Guangzhou, China. The Pearl River Tower will stand 71 stories tall, and is already being called "the most energy efficient high-rise in the world," with its solar power capabilities and wind turbines, among other features.

Yes, all around the world the benefits and purpose of net-zero energy homes and buildings are being appreciated and taken up by the eager masses. It's not difficult to understand why. And while most of us can't afford to create a net-zero energy home like Yannell's, making residential green changes on a smaller scale can be realistic for most homeowners if they have the will and the means to do so. Once the changes are made and there are new green fixtures to be used in these homes and buildings, their total energy efficiency as well as their energy cost savings and their positive effect on the environment can start to make a real difference.

Building Your own Net-Zero Energy Home

The decision to build a net-zero energy home on your own property can be made after estimating your personal green remodeling budget, and deciding what green design features are essential to you and your family. Your green building opportunities will also rely heavily on your local builders associations and their contracting specialties and capabilities. By working with local professional contractors to develop the best green services and building features possible, homeowners can begin working toward an amazing future in green living.

Since a lot of the green design features necessary for net-zero energy homes are relatively new, and since they require a great deal of proficiency and skill to construct them properly, the best way to fulfill your dreams of a net-zero energy home is to have a professional green contractor work closely with you from project start to finish; probably a design specialist too.

It's important to remember that the building costs of a net-zero energy home, compared to simply a standard or green-remodeled home are going to be much greater. For instance, the lead designer for Yannell's Chicago net-zero energy home, Jonathan Boyer, said that the green features of the Yannell home "added 10 percent to 15 percent in upfront costs," which can take several years to recoup. However, the difference in energy bills can be noticed right away, and a completely energy-efficient home could potentially earn energy credits in the future from local power companies, depending on how much energy your home produces. Since green building practices are supported by our government as well, new green homeowners may be eligible for sizable tax credits on the construction of various energy-saving home features.

Finding a Trusted Green Home Contractor

By perusing the different licensed contractors available on SignatureContractors in your specific region, you can be sure that you're connecting with a high-quality contracting professional. In fact, SignatureContractors service representatives will not only find experienced contractors in your area, they will obtain up to 3 free estimates for you, to help you choose a contractor that can deliver skilled services within your price range, while still meeting your project expectations.

Contact us today to start your own green home improvement project. It doesn't matter if you are wanting to update your kitchen appliances to include some greener models, or if you are considering building your very own net-zero energy home! Our home contractors possess varying levels of remodeling expertise and different certifications, so we can match you with a contractor who's just right for you!

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