Do you know what it means to be one of the new zero energy homes? Let's start with some terminology used to describe these houses. You'll find most terms describe buildings. That's because the techniques and materials behind net zero energy homes has been implemented more aggressively in commercial buildings. The first net zero energy house was built in 2006, so the ideas are new and we're starting to see a lot more net zero building in the US (Europe is way ahead of us).
So let's start with terms you're likely to see in the news:
- Zero net energy building (ZNE).
- Net-zero energy building (NZEB).
- Often abbreviated, houses may be called net zero buildings.
- Nearizero energy buildings.
- Ultra-low energy houses.
Zero Energy Homes Defined
All of these terms refer to a building that has zero energy consumption. This means that on an annual basis, the building generates enough renewable energy on site, to equal the amount of energy consumed. This year's New American Home (pictured above) is a net zero house with a HERS score of zero.
The Net in Net Zero Homes
Houses that are net zero buildings may at times consume non-renewable energy to meet their demands. This is likely to happen on cloudy days or when they have a peak in their usage. That's when they'll draw power from the grid or run a generator that burns gas. This produces greenhouse gases but it's offset by the times when they produce more energy than they need. Then a net zero house can either store excess energy in onsite batteries or put it on the grid for others to use.
What is renewable energy? It's things like solar panels and wind turbines that no matter how much energy they generate, they haven't used up resources like oil or gas. There will be just as much sunlight in the future, regardless of the amount of solar energy gathered to create electricity.
Want to learn more about green building and net zero houses? Here are both web resources and some books you can use to decide if a zero energy house is in your future.
- ZeroEnergyProject.org – is there to help you find the resources to buy, build or sell a zero energy home.
- Energy.gov's website, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy – offers a directory of zero energy homes across the US.
- Wondering if zero energy homes look different? They don't and you can visit Zero-EnergyPlans.com to learn more.
The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design & Construction of Homes for a Renewable Energy FutureThe Power of Zero: Learning from the World's First Net Zero Energy BuildingsA Green Builder Look at Buildings & Materials for Building Green, Sustainable Homes