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Upgrading Your Home to Net Zero

July 28, 2017 at 8:45 AM

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Upgrading Your Home to Net Zero

Imagine having no monthly energy bill. What would you do with the extra cash? Maybe save toward your dream vacation or your child’s college fund? Make that dream a reality by turning your home into a zero-energy home! Zero-energy or net zero homes consume energy, but also generate enough to cancel out your overall  “footprint”. Not to mention that they are eligible for all kinds of tax incentives and government rebates which means, even more money in your pocket.

These zero-energy homes are regular grid-tied homes, only better! They are well insulated, air-tight, and energy efficient! By upgrading your home, you can positively impact the environment more than if you just installed solar panels or even converted to an electric car. To put it into perspective, making the conversion can save as much energy as taking eight cars off the road for twenty-five years!

So how can you start upgrading? The easiest and cheapest way to start is to improve your home’s insulation. Reduce the amount of leaks your home has around the window frames and doors, and make sure your duct work is sealed. Other, more large scale options are to adopt the use of rooftop solar panels and connecting with renewable energy projects.

You can take it a step further by following the advice of zero energy home expert, Barry Contrael. Contrael is the director of Siemens Low Voltage business division, whose team was challenged with the task of building a net-zero home for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Here are his five tips for pursuing a zero-energy home:

  1. Audit your home for energy efficiency. You can't plug the leaks if you don't definitively know where they are. "When you're approaching a net zero home, you don't start with technology. You start with a concept that says, 'I'm not going to pay capital costs to generate electricity that's not going to be used in a value-added way.'  In other words, look first to where you've got waste."
  2. Install compact fluorescent lighting. Modern versions don't have the greenish tinge of CFLs of yore. "People hate CFLs, but they last seven to 10 times longer and use one-fourth the energy," he said. "That's a 20 to 30 dollar savings over the life of the bulb."
  3. Buy a solar water heater. And wash more clothes in cold water. "A lot of the facets of heating water are big energy users," he said. Make sure it's set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit -- the "warm," not "hot" setting.
  4. Purchase Energy Star appliances. If you've purchased a new appliance in the last few years, you're OK, but if it's seven to 10 years old, it's time to return to the store. "The efficiency of these new air conditioners makes them worth replacing your old," he said.
  5. Once you've exhausted your low-tech options, go high-tech with solar micro-inversion. Siemens says this solution -- in which inverters convert power from DC to AC at each panel, rather than in a centralized place -- is better for homeowners. "With string systems, if there's a poorly performing panel, the entire string's production goes down. If one panel goes out, you lose the whole string. With micro-inversion, you get more hours of generation per day and a higher efficiency of the overall system. It's also less prone to misapplication [by electricians]. In the home, it's a clear winner." It's also where the generation side of "net zero" comes into play.”

Net zero homes are not only great for the environment, but also for your wallet. While some of the initial investments may cost you, the improvements will quickly pay for themselves! Making the conversion to a zero energy home is a no brainer. Take your first step today by remembering to switch off the lights when you leave the room, and by visiting the Zero Energy Project website   

As a final note, remember, Net Zero Homes are all about cutting down our footprint.  You can also install a Suds Sentry Washing Machine Pan to prevent or mitigate water damage from washing machine overflow.  When the home is protected from water damage the need for reconstruction is erased thereby, saving our resources and reducing our footprint.  You can learn more about Suds Sentry Washing Machine Pans at,

Tags: net zero, reduce footprint, net zero homes, sustainability
Category: Net Zero Homes

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