Energy efficiency is more popular than ever — not only to reduce monthly payments on things like electricity, water, and natural gas — but also to create a greener world. The gold standard of energy efficiency is a zero energy home.
Zero energy homes aren’t a return to life on the prairie — they still include the modern comforts of running water and electricity. What are they, and how can you get your own? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.
What are Zero Energy Homes?
Zero energy homes are designed to reduce the amount of energy needed for daily life, and produce that amount or more energy. Essentially, they don’t rely on the power grid for energy or utilities. All the energy the home uses is generated or recycled by the home itself.
4 Qualities of Zero Energy Homes
Zero energy homes can come in many forms, but most share these four main qualities.
#1 Green Building Practices
Zero energy homes are built using sustainable materials, including recycled, repurposed, and recyclable materials. Builders and contractors of zero energy homes also seek to reduce the use of fossil fuels during construction.
#2 Energy Efficient Design
All systems and design features in a zero energy home are intentionally chosen to reduce energy consumption. Examples of energy efficient design include large windows and skylights that capitalize on natural light but not heat gain, low flow appliances, and geothermal heating and cooling.
#3 Net Zero Utilities
Zero energy homes are designed to use as little energy and water as possible. They also produce the energy needed for day to day living by renewable means (wind turbines, solar panels, and more). The result is net zero energy — which means net zero utility bills.
#4 Sustainable Living
This type of home encourages a sustainable lifestyle. For example, the home plan might also reserve space for gardening, a chicken coop, honeybee hives, or other tools for sustainable living. Zero energy homes are designed for the environment, but also for the environmentally-conscious homeowner, and they include all the features that will make life in the home comfortable and eco-friendly.
How to Reach Net Zero Utilities
Interested in having your own zero energy home? Here are some tips to help you build energy efficiency into your home, and get you closer net zero energy.
Turn Off the Lights
Turn off the lights when you don’t need them to lower your electricity costs. To help with this, consider adding windows to bring in more natural light, use candlelight to reduce electricity costs and promote a cozier atmosphere, or adjust your schedule so you wake with the sun, and retire when it’s dark.
Go Au Naturale
Use natural resources as much as possible to keep you comfortable at home. This can be done in simple ways, like establishing a cross breeze for ventilation, or involving more home-improvement, like increasing your home’s insulation to keep the heat or cool in, naturally. Another way to make use of natural energy is dry your laundry on a clothesline to save the energy cost of an appliance.
Lower your water usage by installing low-flow toilets and fixtures. These appliances only use the minimum water required, and can save you a surprising amount of money on your water bills, without sacrificing the comfort or water pressure you’re used to. You can also conserve water by changing your habits: limit flushes, take shorter, more infrequent showers, and collect rainwater for irrigation of your lawn and garden.
Use Renewable Energy
Solar, wind, and geothermal energy are great renewable sources to supplement your energy needs. Although many require a hefty upfront investment, the tax incentives and utility savings may pay off the cost in a matter of years.
Move to a Sustainable Community
If you’re serious about cutting your utility costs, you’ll find it much easier to reach your net zero energy home goals in a sustainable community. In sustainable communities, green building is standard and environmental practices extend from home design to lifestyle.
At Couch Mountain, it is possible to achieve net zero energy for your home. Residences in our neighborhood are built with green building practices to use sustainable materials and energy efficient components wherever possible. To learn more about the potential energy savings waiting for you in our sustainable community, give us a call to set up a tour.
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