Zero Energy means self-sustaining, and using no more energy than is created by the home. Is it possible?
That could depend upon energy needs, geographic locations, and even your knowledge and passion for getting “off the grid.” It has been done, though it could be quite an adventure, say some. Nationally the average single family home uses approximately 30 kWh. A good Zero Energy home may be averaging as low as 40 kWh a day, according to statistics, and a few have been able to live below that average with strict conversation habits.
To be designated a ZEH (Zero Energy Home) your home must use 50 to 70% less energy, and being using a 30-50% renewable energy supply, according to the Florida Energy Systems Consortium.
An good example of a real zero energy adventure might be one in Florida where a couple bought a concrete block home built in 1959, in April 2006, and began converting it to efficient energy usage. They put in florescent and LED lighting, dual flush toilets, and a whole house gas tankless water heater. They kept the thermostat at 70-80 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter, used ceiling fans on mild days, and opened the house up during better days to let the environment heat and cool.
When the statistcs came back a year later they had used 49% less energy, and even earned a bit of income (32 cents per kWh) after installing a solar photovoltaic system. They were also recognized for emitting 64% less green-house emissions during the first 362 days of their experiment.
The World’s Tightest Home was built in Fairbanks, Alaska, according to the World Record Academy. It boasts annual energy savings of $4,500 a year at a tight “0.05 ACH@50 Pascals” rate. The calculations have something to do with “Air Changes Per Hour,” and the house was built by a sustainable energy professor at the University of Alaska. It ain’t much too look at, and its owners may have had to invest a little more in blankets and sweaters, but that’s the savings and the cost of setting energy records.
Can you build a ZEH or a ZEB?
Beautiful Zero Energy Homes “ZEHs” and Zero Energy Buildings “ZEBs” are popping up all over the country, and some are even being built by Habitat for Humanity. Many new building companies are trying to woo consumers to the zero edge of energy efficient homes. The builder/consumer collaboration is called “green” and “healthy” and “a passive alternative” for environmentally responsible living. Googling “Zero Energy Homes” will bring up many companies to work with or that will work for you if energy efficiency is your passion.