|Photo credit: CBC News|
A net-zero home produces all of the energy it requires.
Imagine living in a home that can produce all the energy it requires. That means no monthly power bill, no heating bill and no worry about power outages.
This self-sufficient home isn’t a dream of the future, it’s here today. It’s called a net-zero home and the first certified net-zero home in our region has recently been built in Quispamsis by MCL Construction.
Net-zero homes are built to be extremely efficient so they require less energy to begin with, and they’re outfitted with renewable energy sources. It means that the homes can produce all of the energy they require.
The energy produced is stored in backup battery systems and excess energy produced is sent out to the power grid and in some jurisdictions is purchased by the power company. (Any bill from the power company would be for connection fees and taxes.)
These are the ultimate in energy efficient homes.
To put it in perspective, the average new build emits up to 35 tonnes of CO2 per year but a net-zero home emits just one tonne. Net-zero energy homes are built to strict design and building standards that include these basic elements:
- The homes are built to require less energy. The walls are extra thick to fit more insulation and the roof is better insulated than a conventionally built home. The homes are oriented on their lots to take advantage of the sun’s heat and light and other building techniques are used to keep the heat in and the cold out.
- The homes also include renewable energy systems, such as solar panels. And the homes are run efficiently with the help of energy efficient and water saving appliances, fixtures, heating systems, hot water heater and an efficiency mindset.
Building codes haven’t kept up with the times.
The current building code – the minimum standards to which a builder can erect a new home – is a decade old. Even without going the net-zero distance, new homes can be built much more efficiently. Eventually the code will be updated but in the meantime, if you’re building or renovating a home, consider incorporating renewable energy technology and above-code building materials and techniques to make your home more efficient.
The long-term payback of renewables and efficient homes.
The return on investment on renewable energy upgrades like solar panels is improving all the time. And that is based on current energy costs. As the technology comes down in price and the cost of energy increases, the payback period will get shorter and shorter.
Installing renewable energy systems becomes an investment in more ways than one.
Down the road, excess energy can be sold to the grid and long after the systems have been paid for you’ll continue to pocket money that would otherwise have been used to pay the heat and power bills.
To learn more about the net zero home visit http://mclconstruction.ca/net-zero-housing/
To learn more about net-zero home standards and certification visit the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.