There’s a lot of buzz surrounding net zero living and net zero energy homes — and it’s no wonder. The promise of homes that produce as much energy as they consume means that we’re one step closer to true environmental sustainability in the home-building industry.
As experts in the field of custom home building, Blythwood Homes has decided to dive a bit deeper into this trend and give readers a better idea of the nuances of net-zero, and how — even if your new house doesn’t actually qualify as a net-zero home — custom home building can still go a long way toward environmentally sustainable living.
What are Net Zero Homes?
You might be wondering what qualifies a home as net zero energy? The simple answer is that a net zero home produces as much energy as it consumes. This is typically accomplished by having a method to generate power to meet energy needs, such as a solar panel array combined with more stringent building standards ensuring maximum energy efficiency.
Maintaining a net zero home means that energy consumption must be kept so low that the power generated by the home itself meets all energy needs. This can be a challenge, but new homes can be built with certain standards in mind to help reach that end.
- Net zero homes in Canada are often designed to be up to 80% more efficient than standard homes, requiring far less energy overall to meet the needs of homeowners.
- Homeowners of net zero homes manage their energy use very carefully in order to keep energy generation high and use low.
- Net zero homes in Canada also typically take advantage of warmth and light from the sun (also known as passive heating).
- Net zero homes are often built with high-efficiency HVAC systems, ENERGY STAR appliances, and other technological advances.
Of course, it’s impossible to bring a home to net zero without some sort of on-site energy generation to produce power equal to what is being consumed. While not every net zero home will function or even look the same way, they all include their own unique source of renewable energy generation.
The R-2000 Pilot Project
Canada recently made waves as it implemented its R-2000 net zero energy home pilot program, designed not only to improve performance standards of homes, thereby reducing their carbon footprint, but also to raise awareness of green home building techniques and technology.
The pilot project was unique in that it focused on standard, off-the-shelf technologies, ensuring that home builders attempting to construct net zero homes never felt out of their league or pushed beyond their experience range or comfort levels.
Even for homebuilders who failed to reach net zero energy outputs, they nevertheless learned key techniques for building sustainable homes in the future.
Environmentally Sustainable Custom Homes for Empty Nesters
Of course, not every home needs to be net-zero to have a positive impact on the environment. If you’ve already decided to downsize and leave the city to move into a brand new, customizable home, an ENERGY STAR certified bungalow or townhome is the right home for you.
A new house from Blythwood Homes in Niagara-on-the-Lake is not only built to a stricter code than the older Edwardian homes you find in Toronto, Hamilton, and London, but with the ever-evolving features of energy efficient homes, homeowners in Ontario adult living communities can enjoy a higher standard of living, while reducing utility bills and carbon footprinting.
Better Living Through Cleaner Air
First and foremost, in ENERGY STAR homes, you’ll enjoy a higher quality of living thanks to more even temperature throughout and a reduction in indoor air pollutants. Energy efficient windows and doors ensure that the air you breathe is free of many irritants that ordinary homes allow to seep indoors through insufficient sealing and framing.
New homes can be custom-built with High-efficiency HVAC systems and ENERGY STAR windows reduce air pollution. Less dust means less cleaning, but also fewer allergens, which is great for older adults with a respiratory condition.
Reducing Energy Waste Means You Save Money
First, our custom houses are built with ENERGY STAR certified floor, wall, and attic insulation, helping to even temperatures throughout the space, increasing comfort while reducing energy use and carbon footprinting.
Meanwhile, double pane energy-efficient windows employ protective coating and improved framing to help keep homes cooler during summer and warmer during the winter thanks to the elimination of drafts. Another benefit of double pane windows is that they block damaging ultraviolet rays that — over time — can discolour furnishings and carpets.
If you have spent the time finding the perfect furniture set for your dream space, you certainly don’t want it ruined by harmful UV rays.
Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
Energy-efficient HVAC heating and cooling systems not only keep energy costs and carbon footprint down in a custom-built home, but they reduce indoor humidity (improving the overall comfort of our homes) and run quieter than non-efficient models.
Tight Construction and Ducts
Another way that Blythwood Homes keeps heating and cooling working as efficiently as possible, is by making sure that our homes have an airtight envelope, which means that the air moving through your ducts to cool and heat your home is never compromised by outside particles.
Energy-efficient homes provide peak efficiency which means lower utility bills. This can be a great advantage if you plan to retire in the near future and therefore live on a fixed income, or you want to set your energy bill savings aside for bigger vacation or real estate plans.
Finally, your ENERGY STAR seal assures that the true value of your home should you ever decide to sell it.
If you weren’t sure about the distinction between energy sustainable living and net-zero living, hopefully this article has helped shed some light on a complex topic. If you’re interested in learning more about energy efficiency and custom homes, give us a call today.