Net Zero Homes: Low Operational Costs and a Strong EnerGuide Rating

Published on December 28, 2018

Net Zero Homes Low Operational Costs and a Strong EnerGuide Rating

A Net Zero home is a highly efficient home that is able to produce as much energy as it consumes over a 12 month period. By utilizing various high-efficiency strategies such as triple paned windows and/or renewable solar energy, a Net Zero home is extremely well insulated and air sealed, and has very low operational costs due to its ability to produce its own renewable energy.

If the provincial government’s initial strategy was still in place where Home Energy Assessments were to become mandatory for all Ontario homeowners, then more Ontarians would have become aware of how efficient their home is and how it could be improved - inciting a greater number of energy efficiency improvements and helping to lower the amount of carbon emissions in Ontario.

Mandatory Home Energy Assessments would also be helpful in increasing interest in Net Zero homes, as an assessment can show homeowners just how effective efficiency improvements can be at conserving both energy and money; sparking an interest in not only home efficiency improvements, but also in the search for a new and more efficient home than the one they currently live in, such as a Net Zero Home.

Net Zero for Homebuyers: Energy Efficiency is the Path to Low Operational Costs

Investing in a high efficiency home is beneficial to more than just the environment. All homes that are highly efficient share a few qualities. They are: comfortable and free from drafts, have low operational costs, and have a high value on the housing market.

Net Zero homes take all of this one step further. As they have high levels of efficiency, the amount of energy required to operate them is reduced. This means that there is less stress put on the renewable energy systems themselves, and they become much more successful at powering the entire home. For the homeowner, this means substantially lower utility bills than a traditionally built home, and a home that is built in preparation for the future with little reliance on an exterior power grid.

Teaming up with several federal agencies, some larger builders have constructed Net Zero homes at an affordable price, such as the home builder Landmark and their $399,397 Net Zero home in Edmonton - where the average price of a detached home was around $427,726 in February. Net Zero projects such as this are exciting news for homeowners, as it means that Net Zero may be shaping up to become the more affordable home in both the long and short term.

How Energy Efficiency is Improved

The way that a Net Zero home attains such high levels of energy efficiency is due to its strict building practices and efficiency strategies. This is achieved similar to how a homeowner would go about improving their homes’ efficiency - through design and planning. For a Net Zero home this is done before the home is even built, but for homeowners in already existing homes, the path of efficiency improvements could be laid out for them with mandatory Home Energy Assessments.

Net Zero Home Low Operational Costs Start With Design

Home Energy Assessments are worth much more to the value of the home than just the EnerGuide Rating they help the home receive. The suggestions for improving efficiency that are included in a Home Energy Assessment are beneficial to homebuyers, homesellers, and realtors, as they provide a clear path of how efficiency can be improved, which can then be followed to significantly increase the value of the home.

The assessment also includes how much money the home is expected to save with each improvement to efficiency, allowing the homeowner to subtract it from their costs. It is also part of the qualification process for the home renovation rebates that are available from both Enbridge and Union Gas, which helps to make home energy improvements become even more affordable.

Net Zero for Homesellers: Passing on Energy Efficiency to New Homeowners

In the future when it comes time to move, a Net-Zero home will more than hold its value on the housing market, even if building codes reach Net Zero levels of efficiency as their standard. Although the cost of energy may continue to rise, Net Zero homes will continually be the least affected due to their on-site renewable energy sources. This means that both their demand and value will increase alongside rising energy prices.

The same is true for highly efficient homes. If energy prices rise in the future, a home that consumes less energy will be much less affected in terms of cost increase, and will have an increasingly larger gap in terms of lower operational costs when compared to a less efficient home.

Mandatory Home Energy Assessments can also contribute to increasing a home’s value, even if the current homeowner does not improve the home’s efficiency before they sell, and other homes in the area receive a stronger EnerGuide Rating. This is due to the plan for improving efficiency that is included in the assessment, as it provides the buyer a blueprint for future improvements, making it cheaper and easier for them to do so when the time is right for them.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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