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Busting Four Myths About Net-Zero Homes

March 20, 2017

One of the hottest home trends today is the net zero home that produces as much energy as it uses. The Department of Energy's Zero Energy Ready Home program helps builders and owners design homes that are ready for renewable energy to match their energy use.

But there are still some myths out there that are keeping people from pursuing a net zero home. Recently, Zehnder America, manufacturer of energy and heat recovery ventilators that are commonly used in net zero homes, took at look at some of the common misconceptions around net zero homes. Read the original post here.

Myth 1: You Might Run Out of Energy

Most net-zero homes are connected to the power grid and then have a solar energy system to generate electricity. When the system produces more energy than the home is consuming, the excess is fed to the power grid, and the homeowners are compensated for the energy. At night or on cloudy days, the home draws power from the grid. Homes that aren’t connected to the power grid typically rely on batteries for energy storage, and it is possible they could run out of power.

Myth 2: High-Performance Homes Have Poor Indoor Air Quality

Although this is largely a myth today, many older high-performance homes without mechanical ventilation did have indoor air quality issues. When building to the Passive House standard, heat recovery ventilation or energy recovery ventilation is necessary to ensure high indoor air quality.

Zehnder heat recovery and energy recovery ventilators are certified Passive House components that are up to 92 percent efficient in transferring heat from the exhaust air to the intake air, saving energy. These systems continuously extract stale, moist, or contaminated air from the bathrooms and kitchen and supply fresh, filtered air to the living spaces.

Myth 3: You Need a Large Lot in the Suburbs or a Rural Area

It is helpful for ultra-energy-efficient homes in North America to have a southern orientation to absorb solar energy in the colder months. On an ideal site, the sun’s rays would be unobstructed, but this is not necessary. There are numerous examples of homes built to the Passive House standard on small lots in urban areas.

When one is considering solar system output, less shading does result in greater energy production. In some cases, trimming trees or installing a solar system with microinverters or power optimizers boosts solar electricity generation.

Myth 4: These Homes Aren’t Worth the Upfront Cost

Net-zero homes almost always have a higher upfront cost. Although constructing an ultra-energy-efficient house involves little or no additional cost, a renewable energy system does increase costs (unless the solar system is leased instead of owned).

The return on investment of the solar energy system varies depending on the local cost of electricity, the cost of the solar system, and the amount of energy produced by the system. Where the cost of power is high, the solar system can pay for itself in a decade or less.

As net-zero homes grow in popularity, greater options exist for consumers. There are now more builders and architects trained in ultra-energy efficient building techniques and a variety high-performance building products provide more options than ever before.

Read more about ERVs and HRVs.


Topics: Building Green, Energy Recovery & Heat Recovery, Heating & Cooling, Indoor Air Quality, Passive House, Thermal Envelope, Ventilation

Companies: Zehnder America


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