The economics of net zero
A net zero home is energy efficient. It’s also easy on the wallet.
Image Source: Effect Home Builders in Edmonton, AB
To achieve net zero status, a home must produce as much energy as it consumes.
It sounds like science fiction, but it’s just science. As a result, these homes are becoming more common. And the federal government has decreed by 2030 the National Building Code will support net-zero building. Along the way, the code will make super energy-efficient homes the norm.
In theory, it would be possible to achieve net zero by generating a large amount of power and consuming an equal amount. But that would be impractical. For one thing, it would require an enormous solar installation. For another, it would be expensive.
Of course, the real problem with the “go big” scenario is that it goes against the basic goal of net zero building. A net zero home starts with conserving energy. This approach takes into account everything from site location to home design to building materials.
It takes advantage of technical advances to ensure that homes are airtight and well- insulated. Windows must also be highly insulated and should be placed to allow for passive solar heating. This is especially important in winter and in cold climates like Calgary. It can be augmented with geothermal heating or a heat pump.
Ensuring energy efficiency makes it easier to heat the home and to achieve net zero status. Of course, there is a cost to all this, but it’s not as high as you might think. In fact, Avalon Master Builder has a vision to offer net zero homes at no extra cost to buyers. In Edmonton, Effect Home Builders estimates the cost to be about 8% to 12% more than a traditional home.
That expense is balanced by the savings that come with operating a net zero home. Effect estimates electricity costs $75 or less annually in its net zero homes. Heating costs are about $8 a month.
Achieving net zero is a balancing act between energy consumption and production. But, in terms of family finances, net zero definitely tilts towards savings.