Are you thinking about Zero Net Energy living?

| by Marina Dippel

With advances in renewable energy, it's possible to build a home that generates as much energy as it consumes.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has Zero Energy Ready Home program, with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability.

A Zero Energy Ready Home is a high performance home that is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.

That mean the home is designed to use as little energy as possible, and the energy it uses is offset by solar or other renewable power sources. So the home will be designed with insulation, air sealing and other building techniques to reduce space heating and cooling requirements.

Then careful attention to the other users of electricity, such as water heating, lighting, washers/dryers and small appliances further reduces power demands. Tankless water heaters for example offer highly efficient water heating options.

Many homes designed for net zero energy incorporate geothermal heating and cooling. Geothermal heating and cooling systems take advantage of the stable temperature (about 55°F) underground using a piping system, commonly referred to as a "loop." The water circulates in the loop to exchange heat between the earth and the home using a ground-source heat pump. The loop contains water and an anti-freeze mixture to maximize heat transfer. Depending on the site, loops can also use ground water to circulate through the pump. These systems can cost 40 to 60 percent less to operate than traditional heating and cooling system.

Taking the plunge to net-zero living is becoming more common, as some builders across the country are offering it as an optional package on new home construction. Work with a builder who's familiar with the DOE Zero Energy Ready program to make your energy bills virtually disappear.

Topics: Building Green, Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Heating & Cooling

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