What’s new in home remodeling? How about net-zero homes? Net zero homes generate more electricity in a year than they use. These homes produce most of their own electricity though rooftop solar systems. Unfortunately, these homes are a little too expensive for the average home buyer and they must be placed in very sunny locations.
Since there is a demand for energy efficient homes for an affordable price, some builders are aiming to build such eco-friendly homes. Blue Heron Design/Build has recently built a net zero home for about $700,000. Their 5,800 square foot home was built in Las Vegas, Nevada and it will be used as an example to show other builders how to build net-zero homes.
For a home to achieve a net-zero status, there are specific ways the home must be built. First off, the builders have to install spray-on foam insulation to make sure the home does not have any leaks. The home must also be equipped with energy efficient windows, doors, lighting and appliances. Most of the time, net-zero homes will have a rooftop solar panel but it will still be connected to the public power grid.
One of the major hurdles to jump when it comes to building energy efficient homes is location. It is very difficult to have a home in the Northeast or Midwest run solely on solar energy because they do not get as much sun as those in the Southwest. It is also more expensive to achieve net-zero status in these less-than-sunny regions of the U.S. because more solar panels are needed in order for the home to produce a net-surplus of energy.
According to Dan Bridleman, a senior vice president of Blue Heron Design/ Build LLC, it can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000 more for a solar power system that produces the same amount of energy in the Northeast than the Southwest. Due to this fact, you see more net-zero homes in the Southern regions of the nation than you would in the Northern regions.
When a home collects more energy than it can use through its rooftop solar panels, the excess energy is sent back into the public power grid. The homeowner will then receive a credit via their monthly or annual bill from either their utility company or the state for giving the energy to the public. In the past year, the U.S. Department of Energy has certified 370 net-zero homes.
While the price to build a net-zero home is much higher than it would be to build a typical home, your monthly or annual bills are much lower. If you are paying through the roof for your electric or water bills, you should consider the benefits of green building. Paying the extra $15,000 or so to turn your home into a net-zero home will most likely eliminate your electricity bill, and can even make a dent in your other utility bills.
Another popular net-zero home builder is Meritage Homes Corp. Their vice president of environmental affairs has been quoted as saying it can cost as little as $200,000 in some markets to achieve net-zero status on a home. He believes the problem lies more with spreading awareness among home buyers, rather than the cost to build a net-zero home.
So, if you’re in the mood to remodel your home or build a new home with the environment in mind, you should consider a net-zero home. If the price seems a little scary, think about all the savings when it comes to your monthly or annual electric bill. If you have any experience or opinions regarding net-zero or energy efficient home building or remodeling, please let us know in the comment section below.