Nowadays, we have become more and more certain of everything. We are certain that we would always have water and electricity. It is just in recent years that we have got access to them. Moreover, if we keep on exploiting them at the same pace, these might soon become scarce. One of the solutions to these problems is restricting our use. However, we can do that only up to a limit. In fact, the best solution to this problem would be to make our homes self-sufficient in these respects. Developing greener net zero homes and opting for them over the normal houses is one of the things we can do.
Net zero energy homes for living off the grid
One of the best features that green energy sources offer is the ability to go off the grid. Installing photovoltaic panels and wind turbines might be expensive. Especially, when you do it along with scores of other energy-saving features. These make a home sustainable might be expensive to start off, they cough up huge returns in the long term. One of the best examples to demonstrate this is zero energy homes. These structures are independent of the power supply grid. Moreover, some of them can actually send power to the grid as they produce excess energy.
1. 110-year-old house converted into a net zero energy home
Eco Factor: Net zero house with a solar-cell-covered roof.
A 110-year old house that lived without electricity once has been gifted with green power. It can easily enjoy modern gadgets without any power from the grid. Kelly & Matt’s house in Ann Arbor, Michigan has been renovated and retrofitted. This makes it America’s oldest net-zero energy house and Michigan’s first of such kind. It produces nearly 2.5 megawatts extra power.
How about getting started with America’s oldest zero energy home that has been around for 110 years now? It has not been that way all the time. There was obviously an era when this home in Michigan did not even have any power supply. But with a photovoltaic panel covered roof, it now produces 12,500 kWh each year. Since it only uses up 10,000 kWh, the excess helps it turn the meter backwards.
2. Virginia Tech designs zero energy Lumenhaus home for Solar Decathlon
Designed by Virginia Tech, this zero energy home comes with a plethora of green features. It combines to help it stay independent and power itself completely. There is an integrated rainwater harvest system. LED lighting that cuts down on power and twice more efficient solar panel roofing that takes care of power generation. The unique feature that Lumenhaus has conceived is its Eclipsis System, which automatically manages the home’s shading features depending on forecasted and current weather patterns.
3. Dow Chemical Company unveils affordable zero energy home
Eco Factor: Net-zero energy home developed by Dow Chemical Company.
A joint venture between Dow Chemical Company and Cobblestone Homes, Vision Zero is a model zero energy home that can be replicated to create as many identical units as required. These affordable structures reduce negative impact on environment and use solar power for its energy purposes. The special energy savings systems devised by DOW, include special LD lighting units, geothermal heating pumps and improved insulation, which allow it to enjoy the ‘Vision Zero’ grid free status.
The Dow Chemical Company and Cobblestone Homes have introduced Michigan’s first affordable net-zero energy home. Using readily available energy efficiency technologies from Dow, the house, dubbed the “Vision Zero” home is expected to save $3,507 in energy costs and avert 44,855 lbs of CO2 annually.
The Vision Zero home includes next-generation insulation and air-sealing products, and the revolutionary new Solar Shingles developed by Dow. The solar components on this home, which includes a demonstration of Dow’s solar shingle, will produce enough energy to supply all of this home’s electricity needs plus additional electricity that can be sold back to the local utility company for energy credits.
4. Zero Energy Home by New Town Builders
Coming from the heart of Denver, this green home also uses a multitude of features to cut down on energy consumption and depends on alternate energy sources for its power needs. Along with solar power making another shining appearance, the house also features a tank less water heater and smart insulation systems that keep energy needs under check. Additionally it has been integrated with Home Energy Rating System, a feature that will allow you to keep a track of your energy consumption and production.
5. VKR Holding’s net zero energy home for the masses
Designed by Danish firm VKR Holding, this carbon neutral home functions on the principle called ‘Active House’. Featuring unique installations like the slanting skylights, which bring sunshine inside the house and do away with artificial lighting during daytime, the home comes with a solar rooftop, tight insulation and a state of the art climate control system.
6. Meditch Murphey Architects zero energy home
Believing in the philosophy that it takes a lot more than just stuffing high end technology to turn a home into a green bastion, this wonderful zero energy home from Meditch Murphey Architects relies on cautiously placing of windows, right thermal insulation, enough greenery and use of a photovoltaic rooftop to bring to life a completely sustainable home.
7. Ghent University’s zero energy DIY E-Cube house
Well, here is a home that breaks away from the pack and adds subtle variety to the traditional monotony. This is more like a giant DIY project and the home allows you to quickly and easily put together a shelter that is both compact and minimalistic in nature. Use of special insulation techniques and alternate energy make it a zero energy home and the E-Cube designed by Ghent University, Belgium can fit into almost any urban landscape with ease.
8. Effect Home Builders Green Edifice
Coming from Edmonton, Canada, the zero energy home shows that you can go solar in almost any place on the planet, unless you are too close to the poles. The solar panels on the rooftop are placed in such alignment that they produce optimum power and can even generate sufficient energy on cloudy days with intermittent spells of sunshine.
9. Chicago net zero house
Designed by Jonathan Boyer of Farr Associates, this net zero home in Chicago has a solar rooftop shaped like a butterfly and folds upwards lined with 48 photovoltaic panels. It doubles up as both power generating source and rainwater collecting unit.
10. Net Zero Savannah iHouse
No, Apple is not producing cool homes called the ‘iHouse’, but they are being constructed by a firm called Clayton Homes. The house sports a butterfly rooftop laced with solar panels and also helps with the collection of rainwater. Add to it geothermal heating pumps and improved insulation and one will get a green technology integrated home. But the iHouse has an exception too; a windmill that can charge up your all-electric car.