Net Zero Energy Homes Give Back What They Take
Greater energy efficiency in today’s new homes.
Homebuyers are discovering Net Zero Energy (NZE) housing as a way to save money and practice conservation. NZE homes produce as much energy as they consume on an annual basis. Better insulation, airtight construction, solar panels, and programmable thermostats lower energy usage.
A recent Calgary Home Builders' Association study puts energy efficiency at the top of everyone’s “must-have” list, after walk-in closets.
“Our national Home Buyer Preference Study confirmed that today’s consumers are looking for energy efficient homes. The industry is ready and eager to deliver these NZE homes, the ultimate in energy efficiency, to Canada’s discerning homebuyers.”
- Kevin Lee, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA)
In 2015 the CHBA introduced a new Pilot Program to help new builders and renovators. It gives NZE designations to homes that pass certain standards and third-party assessments.
In July 2016, the Program approved the first five new NZE homes in Ontario. One Net Zero Energy-ready (NZEr) home was also approved. Reid Heritage Homes and Luchetta Homes are the first to achieve this milestone in Canada.
In November 2015, YYC celebrated an open house for a new NZE show home in the northeast community of Cityscape. Built by Mattamy Homes, the 1658 square foot home has rooftop solar panels, triple-pane windows and an iPad app to monitor energy usage. Apps like these allow homeowners to track their energy consumption in real time.
Energy-conserving solutions like better insulation, airtight construction, high-efficiency appliances and LED lighting are common in NZE home design. Other less obvious considerations include home orientation and bigger windows to maximize natural light. To keep a house cool during the hot months overhangs, awnings, and natural vegetation promote energy efficiency. Simple design alterations can make a home more beautiful and more efficient.
An NZE home can cost $50,000 - $70,000 more than a standard home to build. However, homebuilders can benefit from a $4 million dollar government grant to help absorb building costs.
Even without incentives, NZE homes are poised to be big money savers in the long run. Some can even generate enough solar energy to sell back to the grid, lowering costs further.
Just as LED bulbs are much less expensive now than when they were first introduced, NZE homes are likely to come down in price over time. Savvy buyers are ready for a high performance house that works just as hard as they do.