We’re back with our special “Your Green Home,” all about how to use as little energy as possible, and save as much money as possible, in your very own home.
You know plenty of us try to save money on utilities. We adjust the temperature a few degrees, we turn off lights when we’re not using them. And we might even adjust the thermostat on the hot water tank, to bring it down just a few degrees, and to bring down our Energy bill at the same time.
But even though all those efforts will save you money and will help the environment, there’s another approach to saving energy that thousands of homeowners are adopting.
An approach that takes the idea of saving energy to a whole new level!
Because instead of just looking for ways to cut back – these homeowners are letting their house do the work – by generating its own power. That’s right – the house generates at least as much as power the homeowner uses….and these homes are called ‘net zero.’
A minutes ago on the show, we talked to Portland OR REALTOR® Marissa Sainz, who says a growing percentage of homebuyers in her market want a net zero home.
So let’s take a close -up look at what a net zero home is, and what it does.
Net zero homes are designed to generate as much energy, as the occupants use. The result? zero impact on the environment. Because the house is generating its own power.
According to the website Zero Energy project.org, a net-zero home is built from the ground up to be super energy efficient. The website describes the typical NetZero home as having thicker and more airtight walls, and advanced window technologies, to create what they call a super sealed building envelope. They also describe the Net Zero home as being super insulated.
A net-zero home uses the sun in several ways. For one thing the home is oriented on the lot in order to maximize the sun’s passive heating capability. Huge windows allow sunlight to pour inside and heat the interior of the home in the winter. Those same windows are be covered with shades in the summer, to keep the sun’s heat out. Also the Net Zero home will feature solar panels which will generate as much, or more electricity than the occupants actually use.
The website also says that Net Zero homes use ultra efficient water heating. And that’s not all. In many net zero homes, the hot water heater is located as close as possible to sinks and showers – where that hot water is used. That way when you turn on the hot water it’ll have just a short jump from the heater to the faucet. Instead of a long long path that snakes all the way through the house. Those long runs, according to the zero energy project, waste a lot of energy.
Now, by the way, a Net Zero Energy home is so airtight, special ventilation systems have to be used to make sure the interior air stays completely fresh and healthy. And many of those advanced systems use heat pump technology to pull heat out of the stale air as it leaves the home… keeping the temperature comfortable, while making the air fresh as well.
Speaking of pulling heat out of the air, Popular Mechanics magazine did an article about a net-zero home in Seattle. In it, the homeowner used a heat pump to pull heat out of the air — but then? That hot air ran air through pipes in the floor. Keeping the home toasty warm. The homeowner also stored rainwater in big barrels, and used that water for just about everything except drinking and cooking.
The result, when you combine all the innovative NetZero approaches the homeowner took, and add in the solar panels on the roof? Popular Mechanics reports he not only paid no money for electricity in a 12 month period, he actually received a credit of more than $230.
So is a Net Zero home the right choice for you? Maybe, maybe not. But they are becoming more popular, and easier to find in markets all across the United States. If you’d like more information about net-zero homes, you can go to the zeroenergyproject.org website. There’s lots of good information there about how to find, or build a net-zero home. And live a comfortable and healthy life, without paying a dime for electricity.