Author Topic: Net Zero Housing  (Read 2360 times)

rawrawrawr

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Net Zero Housing
« on: November 26, 2013, 11:41:32 PM »
I am interested in hearing others thoughts about net zero housing.

Do you think that it is worthwhile investment?

Does anyone currently live in a net zero home? If so, was it a new/modular home or a retrofit? What was your purchase and/or retrofitting experience?

Does anyone know of a provider in the Atlanta area?

slugsworth

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Re: Net Zero Housing
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2013, 04:33:05 PM »
I think that net zero is a value judgment just like anything else.  If I was going to build new I would probably be 'net-zero ready' as in, the house would be energy efficient enough to be net-zero if I added panels. I live in an area where power is very cheap due to hydro, so I don't know if I would add the panels.

All of the new ones I have seen have been new construction site-built, I think retrofitting would be extremely expensive because some things like under slab insulation, wall thickness and so forth would be challenging to upgrade.  Even air sealing to the degree necessary would be rough in a lot of homes.

chasesfish

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Re: Net Zero Housing
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2013, 05:29:19 AM »
I not quite sure how you can get close to net zero in Atlanta with the 90s and humid days.  Natural gas is also really cheap heat.

I do think there's a lot of things you can do to improve efficiency, but this is a tough climate to be net zero.

Gerard

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Re: Net Zero Housing
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 02:35:42 PM »
For most of the net zero projects that I've seen, I don't see the payback in going the last ten or fifteen percent, to hit an arbitrary cut-off point. Especially if you're not going off the grid. It seems like it would be more efficient to invest the additional time, money, and effort in helping others to reduce their energy needs.

But I'm a low-hanging-fruit kind of guy...

Ishmael

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Re: Net Zero Housing
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2013, 05:51:20 AM »
I not quite sure how you can get close to net zero in Atlanta with the 90s and humid days.  Natural gas is also really cheap heat.

I do think there's a lot of things you can do to improve efficiency, but this is a tough climate to be net zero.
It was too long ago to find the link, but I remember reading an article that stated if houses in the southern US could switch the colour of their roofing material to white from (mostly) black, the sunlight reflected would lower house temperatures enough to alleviate the need for most air conditioning and save enough greenhouse gas emissions to meet (Kyoto targets?).

At least, do your own research and do the things that make obvious sense - using white on your roof, considering passive solar effects, good airflow through the house, thermal mass, energy efficient appliances, etc. Many of those can have dramatic effects with minimal added costs.

One thing to look at would be building as much of your house underground as possible - like a hobbit house. They can be designed to have lots of light and feel open and airy, but by relying on the thermal mass of the earth itself you can dramatically reduce energy costs.

It's a fun thing to research, so take some time and really get your plans figured out. A house is a huge investment, and you want to get it right. The treehugger.com design section has a lot of interesting articles on housing energy efficiency.