Tag: net-zero

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.