Whether it be a running tap, one-too-many loads of laundry, or chemical-ridden cleaning products, our at-home rituals do little to preserve the delicate ecosystems around us. Aside from our collections of landfill-bound coffee capsules and our energy-inefficient habit of switching on lamps for sport, the construction of single-family homes can terrorize local wildlife and pollute the air our neighbors breathe.
So, how do we reverse the damage of construction-site-induced soil erosion and fossil fuel pollution? Is it as simple as shortening our showers or ditching paper towels in favor of reusable dishcloths? While these simple household changes can trigger a ripple effect, consider upping your green-living game by striving for a net-zero home.
By definition, a net-zero home is an energy-efficient home that uses renewable energy to limit added energy expenses. Each month, the balance between the home’s power usage and the energy generated factors to zero.
With the latest energy-efficient, renewable-energy systems, homes can reach a net-zero status. Ready to get started? Here’s how.
Harness the power of the sun
With solar panels, homeowners can install a renewable energy system that reduces the need for non-renewable energy sources.
After conducting a power analysis, homeowners can learn just how much solar energy they need to offset their typical energy usage. With a solar system from Ion solar, homeowners can achieve net-zero status relatively quickly.
Another method for achieving net-zero is to manage water and heating water efficiently. With low-flow fixtures and stacked plumbing, water bills decrease. Homeowners can also look for tools to recover drain water and add on-demand hot-water recirculation. Should your energy consumption still fail to cancel out, move one step closer to net-zero by using a cistern to collect rainwater for yard irrigation.
Replace aging windows and doors
The latest energy-efficient windows and doors prevent energy loss from leaks and drafts. High-performance, triple-pane windows maintain interior heating and cooling while also increasing daylight, thus reducing the need for electric lights. As a bonus, these high-performance windows minimize condensation.
For optimal energy efficiency, opt for Low-E storm windows. By blocking ultraviolet and infrared light, homeowners can achieve net-zero status with ease.
Install energy-efficient appliances
Homeowners can also improve their home’s energy efficiency by installing high-efficiency HVAC systems, appliances, and water heaters. Older appliances consume significant amounts of energy, so changing them helps homes get to net-zero, providing a reliable return on your investment.
Hire a smart-design architect
To reach net-zero, incorporate energy-efficient design elements. Today’s architects and designers should know how to build a house to maximize the sun and shade to reduce HVAC costs and optimize water use with low-flow technology.
Your architect and contractor should also evaluate your home’s insulation and properly seal the building envelope according to your climate and budget.
Use high-efficiency light bulbs
Are you looking for a simple way to transform your home into an energy-efficient oasis? If so, consider changing your lightbulbs. If you are still using CFLs, you are already behind the times. LED lights use very little energy and emit a minuscule amount. With these eco-friendly features in mind, you won’t have to worry about your lightbulbs making your home too hot or increasing your energy bills.
Remember, only use LED bulbs where and when you need artificial light. To reduce your energy use, rely on natural light as often as possible.
While experts broadcast the eco-conscious benefits of solar power and Low-E glass, you may want to put these sustainable swaps to the test before splurging on other at-home green technologies. For a comprehensive look at your energy savings, utilize a home-energy monitor to track your usage each month. If you find you are on route to exceeding your balance, you can make small changes and chip away at your carbon footprint.
Before you go
Ultimately, the goal of a net-zero home is to produce what you need. With net-zero energy, you have lower energy bills, and you shrink your carbon footprint, all while fighting the devastating effects of climate change.