Zero emissions, minimal or zero carbon footprint, and much lower monthly bills, what’s not to love? Net-zero building has increased in popularity in recent years for numerous reasons. If you’re on the fence about it and you’re not sure if this movement is for you, knowing the benefits of a net-zero building will help you decide.
Some of the net-zero building benefits include zero monthly energy costs, tax incentives, minimal or zero carbon footprint, and an increased home value. Other benefits include a healthier lifestyle and peace of mind.
This article will also teach you the following information about the benefits of net-zero buildings:
- The financial benefits you’ll have if you choose net-zero structures
- Benefits of minimal environmental impact, thanks to net-zero building
- Why you’ll have a healthier home
Most of us make decisions purely from a financial point of view, so first of all, let’s have a look at all the financial benefits that a net-zero building has.
Minimal Monthly Expenses
Net-zero buildings need to create enough energy through renewable sources to supply the demand of the building. Therefore, when you have a net-zero building, you are basically not adding extra pressure on the national grid to get energy for your electricity and heating.
This is most commonly achieved with solar panels. Rather than burning fossil fuels to generate energy, they use the sun’s rays to transfer electricity throughout your home. Since you’re not using the previously mentioned expensive fuel source, you don’t have to partake in the grid-wide massive payment plans.
In addition to solar power, geothermal heating is commonly used. Both solar power and geothermal energy require very little maintenance. You don’t have to spend money on much else than annual inspections (if your manufacturer recommends them).
But in addition to the creation of renewable energy in the project, a net-zero building also reduces the energy it requires to function. One of the ways it does that is by taking advantage of natural light rather than using countless indoor artificial light sources. Net-zero living indicates that you won’t use too many lamps to illuminate your home when you could use the natural light from the sun.
Most people choose net-zero living due to the reduced environmental impact, but nobody complains about saving a bunch of money. As you’ll see in a few sections, you might even get paid for your new way of building and living.
Regular Tax Incentives
Tax breaks and regular payments are two of the main reasons many homeowners get into the net-zero business. They want reliable payments from energy companies as a ‘thank you’ notice for reducing their carbon footprint. But how much money can you get from using less artificial energy?
Bone Structure claims that you can receive up to $2,000 or more for solar panel installations. On top of that, some states provide a tax credit of up to 30% to keep your monthly energy costs down. These two payments are incredible, especially when considering the reduced annual electricity and gas expenses examined in the first benefit.
The good news about net-zero tax incentives is that they transfer to all homeowners. For example, if you’re buying a pre-built net-zero home and continue that way of living, you’ll receive tax breaks, credits, and incentives. The same rule applies if you’re selling your net-zero building to another person.
Many energy companies have unique net-zero programs to pay you for your optimal living decisions. You can track your energy usage, though it’s not tied to the grid. With net-zero homes, you’ll use your home’s natural energy rather than anything from energy companies.
You Don’t Need to Worry About Inflation
In 2013 Dollars estimated that annual energy costs inflate by over 3%. That might not sound like a lot until that percentage compounds each year. You’ll end up paying hundreds of extra dollars than you did one decade ago unless you’re living in a net-zero home. They don’t have to deal with energy inflation costs.
So, how do net-zero homeowners avoid ever-increasing energy costs? Since they’re not using the grid’s fossil fuels, they don’t pay the price. Once the systems are installed, the energy is “free”, in the sense that you don’t need to pay for it. Obviously there is maintenance to pay, but as long as you are producing enough energy to cover the energy you use, you don’t need to pay money per kW.
If you’re caught up at this point in the article, you’ve now seen the following three money-saving benefits of net zero living:
- No energy inflation costs
- Tax incentives for using clean, renewable energy
- Reduces monthly power and gas bills from energy providers
In the next section, you’ll find another net zero building financial benefit.
Increases Your Home’s Value
CNBC estimates that the average net zero home’s value is about 4.1% higher than in traditional homes. Not only will you reap the benefits of all of the financial boosts listed above, but if you ever want to sell your home, you’ll get a bit more. Keep in mind that these statistics vary between states, especially since some of them are more eco-conscious than others.
Let’s do a quick math equation to show how much of a boost we’re talking about:
You purchase a brand-new net zero home for $400,000. Assuming the housing market doesn’t fluctuate and inflation isn’t a variable (both situations which are hard to predict), a 4.1% boost brings your $400,000 home up by $16,400.
Imagine what you could do with an extra $16,400 or more in your pocket! You could use it as a down payment on another house, buy a car, or save it for multiple vacations. If the housing market fluctuates in your favor, that money could go up even higher.
Note: The above example is a representation of what could happen. It’s not a guarantee. 4.1% is an average, which means your city, state, or country’s housing market could pay more or less for net zero homes. However, there’s no doubt that they’re sought after due to the reduced financial expenses.
You Can Allocate Funds to Other Areas
There are dozens of ways that net-zero buildings save money. You’ve read plenty of them throughout this page. You can use the hundreds or thousands of dollars for anything else rather than sinking it into the housing crisis. Assuming you want to use it for more net-zero living methods, here’s what you could do:
- Purchase additional solar panels for more energy. You could use the energy to power anything in your home, recreational vehicle, or workshop. If you have a tool shed, your tools can run off the sun’s energy. DIY solar panels aren’t too expensive, either.
- Get water filters to reuse gray water. This water is produced from washing dishes, taking showers, and similar tasks. If you can purify and recycle the water, you can use it to hydrate the lawn or other plants.
- Consider xeriscaping your yard. National Geographic breaks down xeriscaping as a landscaping method that uses very little or no water and other natural resources. It takes advantage of the plants and rocks that naturally occur in the local environment. A prime example would be cacti, rocks, and succulents found in Arizona that require very little hydration to thrive.
You Can Sell Your Home Faster
As ZEP points out, net-zero homes are built for the years ahead. They’re considered ahead of their time. Renewable energy is the future, so having a house built around clean fuel sources is a significant step for many homeowners. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on upgrading your home, you’ll have everything ready to go when you buy it.
Most people buying net-zero homes don’t intend to sell them right away. If you’re in the real estate industry, you’ll be delighted to combine a higher resale value with quicker turnaround times. It’s a perfect duo that anyone buying or renting a house would love to take advantage of.
If you can add enough solar panels and/or geothermal energy to balance your power usage, you’ll increase the price and reduce the resale time table.
Second to our own financial benefits are the environmental benefits. In the long run, we believe that the market will also catch up with these so the environmental benefits will end up having an even bigger impact on the financial part.
A Reduced Carbon Footprint
You’ve probably read this before about net zero buildings. If you’re not sure of what a carbon footprint is, it’s your contribution in terms of carbon emissions. Fossil fuels used by vehicles, homes, businesses add up to your carbon footprint. This measurement includes plastic bottles and other non-biodegradable materials, too.
Living in a net-zero home reduces your carbon footprint because you’re not using energy as much as most homes. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) estimates that over 70% of the country’s energy usage comes from fossil fuels. If you’re not living in a net-zero home or don’t have solar panels or geothermal energy, you’re contributing to the statistics.
Here are a few ways that net zero buildings reduce your carbon footprint:
- Using high-quality insulation prevents heat loss. You won’t have to use as much energy to warm a home that’s already at the desired temperature.
- Solar power uses the sun’s energy rather than burning fossil fuels. This method is the biggest carbon footprint reduction.
- Geothermal energy warms the air and water in a home, and it can also provide energy if you live in specific regions of the world. Much like solar power, it doesn’t involve burning fossil fuels.
- Net-zero living includes opening the blinds and curtains for sunlight whenever it’s available. Instead of frequently turning on artificial lights, you can use the sun’s light. Builders increase light penetration by making large windows with the right proportions and in the right orientation.
No Fossil Fuel Usage
Fossil fuels have been used for over a century for mass-produced houses, businesses, and so on. They burn quickly and for a long time, but we’ve discovered that they’re quite damaging to the environment. There are several downsides to using fossil fuels, none of which you’ll have to worry about if you’re creating a net-zero building.
Here they are:
- Fossil fuels are toxic and cause foul odors. If you don’t like the smell of gas stations, then you probably don’t like fossil fuels. Think about how often you use energy, not just gas burners. Most energy is produced by burning fossil fuels, even electrical devices that charge from wall outlets.
- They’re expensive and inflating. Fossil fuels keep getting pricier each year. Instead of dropping their costs, gas companies are increasing their prices to accommodate the people leaving the industry. If you use electric cars and net-zero homes, you don’t have to pay the price.
- Gas leaks are toxic and dangerous. Old fireplaces, burst pipes, and worn gas stoves can cause gaseous fumes to fill the room. They’re incredibly toxic. If you live in a net-zero home that uses clean energy from solar panels, geothermal pipes, and other renewable sources, you don’t have to worry about gas leaks.
In addition to financial and environmental benefits, the health benefits for you and your family are also of uttermost importance. This also needs to be discussed in depth.
Good for Your Health
Your body will thank you for building net-zero homes. Clean energy isn’t just clean because it’s from a renewable source. It pulls energy from the ground (geothermal energy), sun (solar power), and wind (air power), none of which burn fossil fuels. You don’t have to rely on toxic fumes to light the stove, run the lights, or warm your home.
According to Zero Energy Project, net-zero buildings are designed with non-toxic materials, which host countless health benefits. Many modern materials use carcinogens and other chemicals to promote longevity, durability, and visual appeal, but none of them are worth breathing unhealthy air.
When you’re living in a net-zero home or creating a net-zero office building, you’ll enjoy natural sunlight. You’ll get a happiness boost, fresh air throughout the day, and fewer contaminants in your lungs. It’s an all-around beneficial way of living for your health, wealth, and energy.
Peace of Mind
Because a peaceful mind is a healthy mind, we consider this also a health benefit. Whether or not it was their original intent, it’s hard to deny the benefit of a reduced carbon footprint, quick results, and reliable energy accessible throughout the year.
Many of us have experienced power shut-offs. They can be scary and unpredictable, but you don’t have to stress as much with net-zero buildings. If you use energy from the grid, your power shuts down with the rest of the neighborhood. However, with net-zero energy, you can have energy without worrying about grid-wide power outages.
You’ll also be accustomed to using fewer lights and less energy than most people, so power shut-offs won’t be a day ruiner. Instead, you can energy your geothermal heating and energy or use the solar panel battery’s power. These few attributes provide peace of mind, but that’s not where the stress relief stops.
Finances are some of the world’s greatest worries. With monthly bill reductions, you can rest assured that you won’t drown in massive $500 to $1,000 energy bills.
Widespread Use of Natural Lighting
Natural lighting is one of the reasons that net-zero homes use very little energy. Although they use self-made energy, these homes rely on the sun’s light through wide windows to bring sunshine and warmth throughout the day. Even on a cloudy day, most artificial light sources don’t come close to the sun’s brightness.
The best way for net-zero homes to make the most of natural light is with a good design. A design that ensures that all main rooms have windows. A design that includes rooms with proportions that allow for the light to reach the end of the room, so no artificial lights are needed anywhere in the room.
But these windows do not only help with daylighting. They are also an important part of heating the space. All of the heat brought in by the sunlight through these windows is held by the high-quality insulation.
Better Comfort thanks to Better Insulation
Insulation in net-zero structures is key to its low energy usage. You’ll enjoy warm winter days and cool summer nights, both of which cost a lot of money to maintain in a non-net zero home. Let’s explain a few reasons that insulation is better in a net-zero building below.
- More insulation is used in order to reduce energy usage. Since one of the most important issues is to reduce the amount of energy required, much more insulation is added to the walls and roof of the building, in order to make your home a better-insulated place.
- Net-zero homes are built to work with the local environment. They take advantage of the sun’s position in the sky to absorb warmth in the walls, preventing it from draining away. Not only does this process provide more solar power, but it also allows you to control the ambient temperature without using too much energy.
- Accurate detailing ensures that there are no cold bridges through which heat can dissipate or cold can enter. While having more insulation in walls and roofs is important, a lot of heat can be lost/gained through cold bridges. Cold bridges are areas of the home where, because of the way the building is built, no insulation (or less insulation) is installed. An example of this would be balconies (or floor slabs in general). In net-zero buildings, because a low energy requirement is so important, these details are carefully designed and any cold bridge is removed or at least minimized.
Air-Tightness Is a Top Priority
From the previously mentioned insulation to the sealed windows, net-zero homes produce some of the best air-tightness of any building in the world. As explained by Zero Energy Project, air-tightness is the most effective way to promote passive heating and cool energy retention. In other words, your home creates and preserves energy from the start.
Bridging gaps, sealing windows, and monitoring airflow through doorways are some of the quickest ways to optimize air-tightness. It’s an on-going process since all homes have to deal with natural wear and tear.
Sealing the wall with drywall and other continuous sheets of material is preferred. Many builders use air-tight adhesive and paint to help, too. By providing air-tightness, your house will stay warm or cool (depending on your preference) much easier.
You Can Cook Food Quickly and Efficiently
Net-zero buildings use efficient (usually induction) stoves to reduce heat and energy lost while cooking. Instead of heating the air, most of the warmth transfers into the pan or pot. In turn, you use less energy and reduce the time required to cook your food or boil the water. Don’t forget that geothermal energy provides heated water faster, too.
Gas stoves are very common throughout the world. They use various sources to light and maintain flames, but most of the heat is sent into the air. If you’ve walked by a lit stove, then you know how warm it can be. Anything you feel by walking near it is lost heat, which means it’s inefficient.
Since net-zero homes use electric or induction stoves, more heat goes directly into the pot or pan instead of the air. Many new-age electric stoves and ovens concentrate heat even better, providing optimal efficiency and freeing more energy for other devices throughout your home.
They Are All Verified
Numerous organizations verify net zero homes before and after they’re built. If you want to make sure that your home will save your money, reduce your carbon footprint, and provide all of the previously mentioned benefits, then all you need is a certificate. Most of the companies that provide these papers are third-party, which means they’re not the building company.
Certifications provide peace of mind by showing you that you’re genuinely getting a net-zero building. However, they’re also a useful tool for selling the home. As you saw earlier, there are up to 4.1% increases for net-zero homes. You can use the papers to prove that your home qualifies for the title.
Your green certification should be a symbol of pride. Not a lot of homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint as well as a net-zero homeowner. It’ll take some time before most homes fit the qualifications, but it’s always better to start sooner than later.
Net-zero building is getting so popular because more people are aware of carbon emissions and fossil fuels. Whether you’re looking for peace of mind or reduced annual energy costs, everyone can find something to enjoy from net-zero structures.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the post:
- You could receive tax payments for using solar power or other renewable energies.
- The initial costs are higher than traditional homes, but the investment is quickly recovered with lower monthly expenses.
- The environmental benefits will end up having an even bigger financial impact in the coming years
- Net-zero homes are environmentally friendly because the whole concept is to have no environmental impact.
- There are several health benefits, such as healthier interior air or a bigger peace of mind, that come together with net-zero living.