The New Buildings Institute recently published a report noting that the number of buildings in design, construction, or operating with zero net energy has increased by 59% in the past year.
The total now comes to 22,146 units in both Canada and the US.
That’s high growth. But it’s still just a small percentage of all residences.
Zero net energy in and of itself is not within the financial means of most people.
In case you’re wondering, “zero net energy” means your home produces as much renewable energy as all of the energy it consumes (or more).
The New Buildings Institute has a goal of seeing all buildings (residential, commercial, industrial) produce enough renewable energy to lead to a positive carbon balance in the earth’s atmosphere by 2050.
Anyway, even though a zero net energy home in and of itself might be too costly for most, you can learn how to save energy from some of the techniques used to save energy in such homes.
Here’s what to consider:
1. Tight Insulation
Regardless of the climate you live in, insulation makes a huge difference. And some of the responsibility for that falls on your home’s builder.
For example, a “California corner” in the studs in your wall, an alternative to a standard corner, allows easier access to install insulation tightly.
That’s just a small thing that adds up though.
All of your insulation has to be installed tightly and correctly from the top to the bottom of your home to give you maximum efficiency.
2. Triple-Pane Glass Windows
While windows tend to have a longer time to pay for themselves when you consider the energy savings they offer, they’re still a part of your energy savings plan.
It’s just that they might be lower on the list than other improvements.
Anyway, triple-pane glass windows have 50% more efficiency than double-pane windows and 25% more efficiency than single-pane windows.
You’ll notice that when you sit in the sun’s direct light shining through triple-pane windows, you won’t even feel the heat. And yes, that includes Texas’ blazing heat.
3. LED Lighting/Smart Thermostats
The latter should be a given in any home with the wiring to accept a smart thermostat, and that includes even if your home doesn’t have any goal of being a zero net energy home.
LED lighting works the same. The best way to increase the cost savings of your LED lights is to wait for and find specials because of the up-front cost of the light bulbs.
You’ll save a ton of energy right away. But it’ll take longer to recoup the cost of the LED bulbs themselves.
Subscribe to your REPs newsletter or ask them if they have any programs for buying LEDs at discount prices. Search online. Subscribe to your favorite retailers newsletter.
And then be ready to pounce when the opportunity arrives!
These tips sound similar to what you’d expect for any home to become more energy-efficient. But they’re taken to greater extremes and require smarter contractors to execute.
You may not attain zero net energy. But you can absolutely reduce your costs by quite a bit if you really commit!