What is a Net Zero Home?

Malcolm Tatum

Net zero homes are dwellings that are designed to be environmentally friendly. In general, a true net zero home will make use of natural materials and alternative energy options that reduce carbon emissions and allow the home to be more or less self-sustaining. Eco-friendly housing of this type is growing in popularity as the cost of building a net zero home compares favorably with the use of traditional building materials.

Solar energy can be used to power a net zero home.
Solar energy can be used to power a net zero home.

One of the goals of any type of net zero home is to create as little impact on the environment as possible. This often means using natural building elements that are common to the area where the home is constructed. In addition, the style of the home may be designed to blend in with the surrounding terrain, allowing the net zero home to coexist in harmony with nature.

A net zero home might use wind power to generate electricity.
A net zero home might use wind power to generate electricity.

Green construction of this type often makes use of non-traditional materials. Straw is one example. The use of straw bales to create interior and exterior walls not only makes it possible to insulate the home without the need for synthetic materials, but also decreases the amount of wood that is required in the overall construction. While not a new phenomenon, straw bale houses have made a comeback in recent years, due to the ease of heating and cooling the interior as well as the relatively low cost of the construction.

A true net zero home will also make use of environmentally friendly sources of energy. Wind and solar energy are often employed when designing a home with an eye toward green living. A hybrid system including wind turbines and solar panels can be used to supply batteries with the energy needed to operate the home. In some cases, a net zero home can function efficiently without the necessity of being connected to the local power grid, allowing the inhabitants of the home to enjoy truly self-sustainable living.

There are a number of reasons why people look into the possibility of building a home of this type. For many people, the benefit of a net zero home has to do with preserving the environment and possibly undoing some of the damage that the environment has sustained over the years. Others are attracted by the idea of being able to build a home that is much less dependent on outside resources for energy and water. Still others simply want a comfortable home that is affordable and relatively inexpensive to maintain.

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