Net-Zero Energy Housing - The Future of Residential Housing

What is a Net-Zero Energy Home?

The homes of the future are already here (and not just at the Home Show or Energy Show). The Net-Zero Energy Home is possible today, with many homeowners already living it. The main aim of an NZE home is to reduce home energy use to the minimum. In addition, a built-in renewable energy system allows the house to produce energy equal in the amount that is being consumed.

renewable energy net-zero earthWhat is a Net-Zero Ready Home?

A Net-Zero Ready Home is somewhat different than the NZE home. Whiledesigned, modeled and built to produce energy in an amount equal to annual consumption, the Net Zero Ready Home (NZEr) is constructed with no renewables installed. In future, as “home labeling” becomes more prevalent, the nuances between each of the different types of homes will become more defined.     

Net-Zero Homes are not necessarily off-the-grid.

For those who are more familiar, an NZE house is not “off-grid”. In fact, the house is still linked to the public electricity grid, and can actually supply electricity to that grid when it has more than it needs. At other times, the house draws power from the grid when personal demand exceeds the electricity that’s produced on site. Over the course of a typical year, the energy that’s supplied to the grid balances out the energy that’s drawn from the grid – that’s NET ZERO consumption.

Today, the design and construction of an NZE home focuses primarily on home energy efficiency, and generating renewable energy. At the same time, effort is also made to enhance the quality of indoor air, reduce any undesirable environmental impacts, and conserve energy usage. The main idea is to significantly reduce short-term energy costs, while protecting against future cost rises. NZE homes also serve to reduce many of the energy-related pollutants and emissions.

In general, NZE homes are better designed and better built – therefore allowing for higher levels of performance overall. In fact, these homes are very resilient, and can offer residential comfort even during a power failure (since they require so little energy to operate). In terms of the indoor environment, an NZE home provides a comfortable, healthy living space, without compromise. As such, large communities of NZE homes can provide a very significant positive impact.

Attaining Net-Zero Energy Levels

When it comes to designing and building a Net-Zero Energy House, there are three chief elements to be considered and implemented. The result is that NZE homes become up to 80% more energy efficient than a typical home. Bottom line, the cost savings on utilities are measurable every year.

  1. The home’s energy needs must be physically reduced
  2. Renewable energy systems must be properly installed
  3. The home must be operated with efficiency in mind

Reducing Home Energy Usage

Reducing home energy consumption is achieved in a number of ways, through various strategies. Each implementation will contribute to the overall reduction of energy use as a whole.

  • Installing high performance insulation to reduce winter heat loss/summer heat gain
  • Eliminating thermal bridging that allows for air leakage around the building envelope
  • Ensuring a continuous air barrier to stop air leakages (to test with a “blower door”)
  • Installation of windows that take advantage of heat and light from the natural sun

Airtightness in an NZE House

Airtightness in any house has a dramatic impact on energy usage (heating and cooling). That impact includes both cost and comfort. In achieving NZE levels of performance, a house has to be as well sealed as possible. Airtightness can be accurately measured with a “blower door” test. In an NZE home, air change rates are fully ONE-THIRD of the rate of a typical home. The well sealed home provides consistent indoor temperatures, negligible air drafting, and efficient ventilation.

Choosing to go with an NZE House

Net Zero Houses can produce as much energy as they use. Being 80% more energy efficient than a conventional home, the NZE option also allows a home to actually produce energy, sometimes more than is needed. The bottom line:  an exceptional level of home energy performance, and outstanding home comfort. This is a home at the leading edge of sustainability.

  • An NZE House allows for very low utility bills, year round.
  • An NZE House ensures superior heating, cooling, ventilation
  • An NZE House provides excellent levels of indoor air quality
  • An NZE House minimizes a home’s environmental footprint

Doing it right from end to end

When it comes to Net-Zero Housing, Barrier Sciences Group offers a number of implementation strategies for homeowners and homebuilders alike. BSG comprises building science specialists who provide energy efficiency solutions to both residential and commercial customers. The BSG team delivers cost effective solutions that dramatically enhance energy performance.

For details about the world of Net-Zero Housing, visit the BSG website at 
or call Barrier Sciences Group directly at 1-866-333-3920.

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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