A net-zero home, also known as a zero-energy building, produces as much power as it uses. In other words, these homes create their own energy through renewable resources like solar power, leaving you with a net-zero energy bill!
When you achieve net-zero status, the amount of electricity your photovoltaic solar system (energy-saving practices) creates is roughly equal to the amount of electricity your building uses. Even commercial buildings can achieve this financially lucrative goal!
Traditional Buildings versus Zero-Energy Buildings
According to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, traditional buildings use 40 percent of the fossil fuels in the United States and Europe. Buildings that rely on the conventional electrical grid contribute significantly to air quality problems in the atmosphere.
Zero-energy buildings use other forms of power, usually solar energy or wind power, to provide electricity. Using solar panels or other forms of renewable power is extremely cost-effective.
Solar energy costs, for example, have drastically fallen over the last several years, and many consider it to be one of the cheapest forms of power available today.
Grid-Tied Net Zero Homes
Zero-energy buildings may not be self-sufficient as far as electricity goes. In fact, many are still tied to the traditional electrical grid to ensure an adequate power supply when the sun goes down, or in inclement weather. In some cases, these homes may get half or more of their electricity from the grid.
How, then, are these homes considered to have a net energy of zero?
Well, these buildings have a large source of alternate power, such as solar panels. This renewable source provides enough electricity to cover the usage needs of the home. So while these buildings may draw from the grid at times, they do not take any more electricity than what they produce.
Off-Grid Solar-Powered Zero-Energy Buildings
Zero-energy buildings that are off-grid require alternate methods to provide electricity when the sun isn’t powering the panel array. Typically, this involves using a backup system.
Take, for example, a solar-powered home. Solar panels absorb the sun’s light and convert it into usable electricity. This works well while the sun is shining, but at night and on cloudy days, the panels will not produce much solar energy. During these times, net-zero homes can rely on battery storage banks.
Passive Solar Strategies Can Make a Big Difference
Using passive solar energy is a great way creep closer to net-zero status.
This may involve upgrading insulation, installing energy-efficient windows and taking advantage of the sun’s position in the sky to augment artificial light and heating in your home. Switching to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs also will help you reduce your need for extra power.
Are you considering adopting an alternate power source to help defray your electric expenses? Contact Intermountain Wind & Solar today. We serve customers throughout the Intermountain West, including Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Our energy experts can help you achieve total energy independence and make your home net-zero!