If you're looking for some major home renovations, look no further. There is nothing more beneficial than transitioning your home to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
In the fight against climate change, net-zero homes play a major role. Let's talk about what they are, how they work, and if you should make the switch to net-zero yourself!
What Is A Net Zero Home?
You've probably heard the term "net zero" by now. Essentially, it means that you are equalizing the amount of carbon you are emitting with the amount that you are taking out.
For a homeowner, that essentially means that you have to bring your emissions as close to zero as physically possible. The only way to remove carbon that you are emitting is to plant more trees around your property (which you should do).
A net-zero home will require a clean energy source and a reduction in energy consumption. Canadians use some of the highest amounts of energy per capita out of any country. In fact, the average Canadian uses over 13,700 kWh of energy per year, which is over 2,000 more than the average American to the south.
Benefits of A Net Zero Home
There are many benefits of having a home that meets net-zero home requirements, and many of them are particular to you and your own needs. However, here are some of the biggest benefits.
Do you want more independence from your utility provider? Do you want to limit your expenses during retirement so you can stretch out your savings for longer? Do you want to go off-grid someday?
If you said yes to any of those, then a net-zero home is for you. Having your own clean energy system and reduced energy consumption will help you on your path toward energy independence.
High ROI & Increased Home Value
Going net zero offers direct and immediate financial benefits to homeowners, especially on their utility bills. This is just in time, as Canadians have seen an increase of around $77 a month on utility bills in recent years.
Not only will it save you money on your monthly expenses, but a net-zero home will also have a much higher resale value. Even adding solar panels to your home could see a value increase of over 4%. If you are able to tell buyers that your home is net-zero, energy-efficient, and
We all want to do our part in the fight against climate change. Significantly reducing your emissions offers peace of mind unlike any other and allows you to continue living your lifestyle guilt-free.
Nobody wants to talk about it, but homes and climate change go hand-in-hand. Your house plays a far greater role in the fight against climate change than you realize, but luckily, there is a lot you can do to stop it.
How to Make Your Home Net Zero
Net-zero homes have three aims: to include renewable energy systems, to reduce energy requirements, and to operate efficiently. Here are the easiest ways to achieve these goals.
The best way to reduce the emissions of your home is to add solar panels. While solar panels were a sign of wealth and status 15 years ago, they are now open to most households across the US, assuming the electrical panels are compatible.
Most solar companies will offer payment deals for solar panels. In this case, you will have your panels installed and only pay the difference on your normal electric bill until it is paid off, meaning that you won't even notice a difference financially.
In most cases, you won't be able to go completely off-grid with solar panels. If you opt for heavy-duty batteries with your solar generators, then this could help you go off-grid or prepare for a power outage. However, solar panels usually only offset the power from the grid, although the difference is often quite substantial.
If you live in a sunny area, solar panels will reduce your emissions significantly, even during the winter if you keep them free from snow. Yes, they will receive fewer hours of sunlight in the winter, but the sunlight will reflect off of the snow, leading to greater energy outputs.
One of the biggest climate offenders in any home is older heating systems. Oil and gas heat are obviously major emitters of greenhouse gases (not to mention expensive), but other electric heating systems are just as bad when your energy source doesn't come from renewables.
The most common alternatives to these is a wood stove, which requires deforestation and burning of carbon-filled wood, which is not a sustainable alternative.
If you aren't familiar with heat pumps yet, that's because they aren't as glamourized as electric vehicles in the transition to clean energy systems. However, they are arguably more important.
Heating your home accounts for far more emissions than your car, on average. This is especially true if you live in a larger house, don't drive much, or live in a particularly cold region of Canada. Not only is making the switch to heat pumps more environmentally friendly, but it's also cheaper and easier in many ways.
How They Work
Heat pumps work by finding heat in the air, even on the coldest of winter days, isolating it, and forcing it into your house. This amazing technology is a natural and emissions-free way of bringing warm air into your home, as long as your energy source is clean.
They run on electricity and simply pump warm air that is found outside into your home, which will dramatically reduce the emissions of your house.
Believe it or not, heat pumps are also the major solution to cooling your home without emissions. Seriously.
The same way that heat pumps discover and isolate heat from outside and bring it into your home, they are also able to find heat inside your home and put it into the ground. While air conditioning accounts for far fewer emissions than heating, heat pumps act as a win-win for your indoor climate control needs.
Again, solar panels and other green energy solutions will only offset so much of your energy systems, so there is a need to reduce your overall energy consumption. One of the best ways to do this is to use energy-efficient appliances throughout your home.
Your dishwasher, water heater, stove, and more could benefit from an upgrade. If you have a gas stove, this needs to be replaced with an energy-efficient electric stove immediately.
Any appliance that is regularly used throughout your house would likely benefit from an energy audit or an upgrade. Lowering your energy consumption is a key component in the fight against climate change.
It doesn't have to stop at appliances. Light bulbs are often one of the largest energy wasters in our home. Switching to LED light bulbs will make a massive difference in your energy consumption if you are currently using incandescent bulbs. LED lights use only a small fraction of the energy as incandescent bulbs, aren't very expensive to purchase, and even last longer!
Look for Rebates and Incentives
Switching all of your appliances and upgrading your energy system sounds expensive, doesn't it? Luckily, you can offset a lot of the cost through available rebates, which will help you transition a lot quicker.
If you look around, you will find plenty of incentives and rebates on green energy equipment, and the offers are only expanding. Currently, there are over 78 federal tax rebates and incentives on electric vehicles, heat pumps, and other clean energy equipment in Canada.
While electric vehicles aren't part of your home, you will need to have charging equipment installed at your house, which could free you up for additional rebates on your home and add value.
Features of Net-Zero Homes
You may still have questions about how a net-zero house actually works in practice. Don't worry. There are still plenty of features in a truly optimized home to discuss. Here are a few examples of what to expect in a net-zero home.
Passive Solar Design
You want natural light to be able to come in and heat up your house during the winter, even if you use a heat pump or other heating system. Limiting the need for heat is very important, and passive solar design is a great way to facilitate that offset.
With the right design, the sun will do a lot of the work for your house during the day, even without your solar panels. Light will be able to come in and, with the right design, have trouble escaping.
Not the mail kinds of envelopes. If you're unfamiliar with the term, building envelopes are the separation between the interior and the exterior of your home.
This is critical to maintaining a net-zero home. Heat loss will only drive up your need for energy, and you'd be surprised how much heat loss the average home sees. In fact, around 35% of heat loss comes from your walls, making the need for solid envelopes and sealed air leaks critical for energy efficiency.
Proper building envelopes will also help with the effectiveness of your passive solar design, leading to a highly limited need for additional heat during the day.
Energy Audits & Monitoring
Monitoring your energy consumption is an important part of maintaining a net-zero home. Again, you will still be using the grid for some of your energy needs, so ensuring that you are getting enough power from clean energy to accommodate your reduced consumption is very important.
This will help you make reductions in energy consumption, ensure that you are using enough offset, and hold you accountable for your net-zero ambitions. Also, monitoring your energy consumption will look great if you choose to resell later on!
Renewable Energy Source
Most often, you will find solar panels on the roof or in the yard of the home. However, any renewable energy source will do. Hydroelectric and wind power are also renewable sources of energy that could be used to power a house.
Although, solar is the most widespread and available technology for personal consumption. Our energy grid does need to transition to more renewables in the coming years, so hopefully, the need for solar panels won't be as necessary for the near future!
The Cost of Net-Zero Homes
On average, a house that is entirely net-zero should only cost around 10% extra to accomplish. That means that if a house costs $240,000 and, if made completely net-zero, would cost around $263,000. For the added benefit, this small increase seems worth it.
Are Net Zero Homes More Expensive?
To put it simply, net-zero homes are more expensive to develop upfront than regular homes. However, this is offset both by tax incentives and long-term utility costs. However, over the course of a long period of time, a net-zero home will pay for itself and more.
In terms of insurance, this will vary from company to company. You will have to talk to your homeowner's insurance provider for more details before making the switch.
Net Zero Homes: Final Thoughts
Now that you know about net-zero homes, you can make the decision for yourself! The sooner we work together to tackle climate change, the better off your wallet and the next generations will be. If you're interested in going net-zero, then now is the time! Stay up to date with our latest news for your home and feel free to contact us with any questions!