Simply put, a net zero home produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements. Unlike “off-grid” homes, most net zero homes are connected to the grid. This allows them to push extra energy generated from renewables to the grid, or pull energy from the grid during times of lower production. Overall, the home’s net pull from the grid annually is ‘0’ or less than ‘0’.
In addition to renewable energy sources, net zero homes are constructed using extra insulation, high-quality windows, LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, heat-reflecting roof tiles and energy-efficient appliances.
Net Zero in the News
In June 2018, Hawaii became the first state to commit to net zero carbon emissions statewide by 2045 when Gov. David Ige signed HB 2182 into law. Many more states are following suit, as reported by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Notable Net Zero Homes
Net zero homes are increasingly being recognized as the ‘home of the future’. A growing number of architecture and construction firms now specialize in designing and building them. Here a few examples in the news:
- Net zero home in Washington State recognized by US Department of Energy with ‘Housing Innovation Award’.
- Architect Magazine highlights several other net zero builds in the US.
- Canada’s first certified net zero home in the Kootenays.
- The Unisphere, company headquarters for United Theraputics in Silver Spring, Maryland. This innovative office building is one of the world’s largest net zero buildings.
A net zero energy home has many benefits. One of the top benefits is savings on utility bills! Here are a few of the top perks when it comes to net zero homes.
1. ROI and Savings on Energy Bills
The typical American household spends several hundred dollars on utilities bills every month. In Hawaii, the average resident’s electric bill is a whopping $279 a month, or $3,348 a year!
In contrast, an energy independent net zero home can offer freedom from utility bills. As mentioned in our previous blog post about Solar Energy, the ROI of a solar PV system is excellent in Hawaii. The investment in the technology pays for itself in a few years. Once the solar PV system is paid off, you get free electricity.
2. Independence and security
It feels good to have full control over your life. Living in a net zero energy home means that you are energy independent. Your cost of energy consumption isn’t dictated by fluctuations in price or other external factors. Your access to energy isn’t interrupted when using renewable energy sources like solar power or wind.
3. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
In 2019, about 63% of electricity generation in the US was from fossil fuels—coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases. About 20% was from nuclear energy, and about 18% was from renewable energy sources. As documented by scientists around the globe, human’s excessive consumption of fossil fuels has a huge cost.
Net Zero energy homes don’t use fossil fuels for energy generation. Living in a net zero home will significantly reduce your fossil fuel consumption and lessen your environmental footprint. It feels good to be part of the solution!
Planning for a Net Zero Home
Net zero homes are data driven. To build a successful net zero home, you’ll need to know how much energy you consume. The best way to determine this is an energy audit. Energy audits can be done yourself, or by a professional. There are also many tech products available for home energy monitoring.
Looking into your energy consumption is an eye opening experience! It can be a good time to ask yourself questions like…do we really need that third freezer in the garage, or a flatscreen TV in every bedroom? Cutting down on your planned energy load means lowering the total cost of your net zero home.
Cost of a Net Zero Home
How much does it cost to build a net zero home? It depends on the size, location, and your energy needs. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that the average net-zero home costs just less than ten percent more to build than a standard home in the Mainland United States. (The cost of building a standard new 2,400-square-foot home is $240,000, while the average net-zero home costs just $263,500 to build).
While building costs are higher than the national average numbers quoted above in Hawaii, we have the benefit of year round sunshine hours and prime weather! This means excellent solar PV power generation capabilities and no need to worry about heating and insulation costs.
Interested in building your own net zero home in Hawaii? Contact us to learn more about our lots available at Kuwili Lani which are ready for your sustainable build.