Net zero questions answered

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
Net zero questions answered

There are lots of questions surrounding green home certification programs, but there's one answer that may be better than all the others.

The good folks at Harry Helmet had some questions for me as part of their Expert Interview program regarding high performance homes and the concept of a net-zero home.

Their questions were on target for people learning about all these green home terms like LEED, Energy Star, Zero Energy Ready Home, National Green Building Standard and so on.

When it comes down to it, net zero may be the easiest to understand: using solar or other renewable energy sources, your home produces as much energy as it uses over a period of time. 

Could you add solar panels to any existing home and make it net zero? Sure, if you have the money. But that approach doesn't make much sense. Here's my answer to one question on net-zero homes:

To clarify, is there a difference between a home that is zero energy versus an already standing home that you just slap solar panels on?

It’s really all about generating as much power as it uses. That’s the only real criteria for a net zero energy home. Theoretically, you could just stick enough solar panels on the roof of any home to offset energy use. But that gets very expensive for an average home. The U.S. Department of Energy has the Zero Energy Ready home certification program that outlines what it takes to build a home to the level where it’s then affordable to add solar panels to generate enough electricity to be net zero.

Bottom line: it’s cheaper to build or improve a home with insulation, windows, HVAC etc. and reduce the amount of solar panels you have to buy than to buy enough solar panels to make an average home into net zero.

The best approach is to use one of, or more than one, of the green building certification programs such as the U.S. DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home program, to reduce a home's need for energy. Then you can use a smaller, less expensive solar panel system to generate enough power to offset the energy used in the home.

Read more of my interview here.

Here's more on how green home certifcations stack up.

Topics: Building Green, Certification / LEED, Energy Audits, Energy Star, Solar Power

Companies: U.S. Department of Energy

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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