Category: Green Homes

The Secret to Net-Zero Homes

Net-Zero Homes
The secret is to harvest passive solar energy

Near Net-Zero Homes can be achieved solely with designing & building a “passive” home. A passive home is simply an airtight home with super insulated home that harvests as much solar energy as possible. Combine thick, heavily insulated walls with large triple-paned windows facing south and a thermally massive floor – you will end up getting most of your heating for free. During the day, the heat sinks into the floor which is then released back into the house during the night. For backup heat, they have a fireplace and electric baseboard heaters. By using electric heat they avoid the need for a natural gas furnace and the monthly bill that goes with it.

Doubling down on the insulation, with a vapor barrier, is one of the key reasons this home requires significantly less energy to heat. Keeping it as air-tight as possible is what attracts all the heat. This large, narrow 3-story home sits on a corner lot that has excellent solar access. For a 2400 square foot home, it has a small footprint. This was accomplished by putting the living room and kitchen on the second floor.

Once you’ve obtained your solar modules and designed your home to collect passive solar heat with sunshine, you have Net-Zero Homes with free energy. The system they have are solar panels (photovoltaic panels). There’s sixteen of them creating a 4.8 kilowatt array and basically, these panels are also are awning for the large windows below by shielding the house from direct summer sunlight. The solar modules provide passive cooling and generate electricity at the same time.

Oddly, their favorite parts of the house are all the places where they reused and repurposed materials to make the house “greener”. For example, they repurposed church pews and reused bricks from the original farmhouse that resided on the property. An old gym floor was used as a feature wall and cooler doors used to conceal the pantry. And, leftover structural materials were used to build the stairs. Net-Zero Homes with passive energy collection & distribution systems, and green materials can also look very beautiful – as you can tell from the interior & exterior look of this featured home.

Read more about Net-Zero in this article on a Historic Home Renovation

Historic Home Renovation: Preserving History And Protecting Our Future

Historic Home Renovation While Achieving Net-Zero Energy Consumption

In this video, witness an historic home renovation with the goal being net-zero energy consumption. Restoring this 110+ year-old Folk Victorian home, while making it ultra energy efficient, was accomplished through tight insulation & sealing, energy star appliances, motion sensors to turn off the lights when not in use, geothermal heating & cooling, and an energy monitor.

When the owners purchased this home, it was in terrible condition. It had lead paint, no insulation, and abestos siding. Run-down, carpet and tiling from the 70s… the list goes on and on. In other words, a dream come true for this husband and wife who happen to be renovation experts. It was a perfect “marriage”, so to speak, for this historic home renovation.

On move-in day, they brought a crowbar to rip up all of the old carpeting and a box of compact fluorescent light bulbs to replace all of the old, energy sucking light bulbs in the house. Then, they installed motion sensors to detect when nobody was in the room so that it would automatically turn off the lights when they were not needed.

Next, they tacked the bathroom which had old pink formica tiling and a toilet that used 5 gallons with every flush and still didn’t fully flush everything, if you know what I mean. They replaced the old toilet with a new caroma dual-flush toilet that uses only .8 gallons per flush and works every time. When completely done, this historic home renovation home will be capable of actually producing more energy than the owners would consume. This project should make history by being the oldest home in America to achieve net-zero energy consumption.

Restoring old homes does not have to be simply about preserving the past, it can also help by protecting our future.


Energy Efficiency – Reducing Your Cost of Electricity

Reducing Your Cost of Electricity through Energy Efficiency

The best way to help lower your cost of electricity is by being more energy efficient. To accomplish the goal of becoming more energy efficient, consider where your largest consumption of electricity may be and reduce that as much as possible, then move on to the next largest power drain in your home. Believe it or not, old refrigerators, old air conditioning window units, your water heater, and your electric garage door can be your largest energy hogs. To reduce your cost of electricity, you may need think about replacing that old refrigerator or air conditioning unit.



In apartments or condos where you typically cannot install a central air conditioning unit, many people resort to using those air conditioning units you can install in windows. As a general rule, they are not known for their energy efficiency. And, the older they are, the more they are increasing your cost of electricity. You need to replace those older window-based air conditioning units with one that is rated the highest for energy efficiency within your budget to get the most return on investment possible. Find out what the current efficiency rating is for the unit(s) you currently have and then compare to the efficiency rating to the models currently available at the local appliance stores. You may spend a couple of hundred dollars replacing that unit but you will more than make up for that initial outlay over the course of the next 1 to 3 summers with the money you will save in electricity. You will save a significant amount of money in the long run.

Another area that will save you a lot of money is your doors and windows – you would be absolutely amazed at how much energy you are literally losing through improperly insulated doors and windows. Properly insulating those doors and windows could quite possibly be the biggest reduction of your cost of electricity than all of the other energy saving measures you could possibly take combined.

Reducing your cost of electricity and energy efficient homes are measures you can take towards having a Green Home.