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A Conventional Home vs. a Net Zero Construction in Vermont Home

Rising energy costs and the greater desire among many to be responsible stewards of our environment are making net-zero homes the new norm. While net zero construction in Vermont is not brand new compared with conventional construction, it is relatively new.

Because if its newness, for most people, building a net zero home is a first-time experience. But coming from a conventional home into a net-zero home doesn’t mean you need to make a drastic change in lifestyle—or any change for that matter. Here are three concepts you might consider in your planning:

Payback

The first question many ask us about net zero is, “What’s it going to cost compared to a conventional home?” The answer to that question depends on whether you consider building a new home an expense or an investment.

Let’s try to answer the initial cost vs. investment question: Would you spend 10% more to save $3,500 per year in utility bills? And we all know that energy costs tend to creep up in cost, now go down. Building a home to net zero construction in Vermont standards means the end of utility bills forever.

Using the number above, you can calculate the approximate length of time it will take you to achieve ROI. But there’s more to it: Because net zero is the construction standard of the future, your home’s value will appreciate more than a conventional home and your standard of comfort can improve.

Performance

A home built to net zero construction in Vermont standards is a high-performance home. With super-insulated foundation, walls, windows, and ceiling, the home will hold in heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer.

Not only does a high-performance home hold its interior temperature, it requires less mechanicals to achieve comfortable living. While a conventional home often requires a massive boiler or warm air heating system, a high-performance home easily can be heated and cooled with a few split-system heat pumps.

Achieving the performance levels for net-zero construction in Vermont requires a systemic approach; all things must work together. Here are the main keys necessary for high-performance construction:

  • A super-insulated “smart” slab. Net zero homes are built from the ground up. Conductive heat loss can occur anywhere the interior living space touches the outside environment.
  • Offset exterior framing. Offsetting exterior framing allows for thicker walls and achieving “R” values not possible with “just to spec” built conventional construction.
  • Triple-glazed windows and insulated doors with gaskets.
  • Super insulation in walls and ceilings.
  • Reduction of thermal bridging. Materials like metal that can conduct or “bridge” outside temperatures to interior living spaces will cause a reduction in home efficiency. Adding appropriate insulation cures these issues.

Peace of Mind

People define “peace of mind” in different ways. Some equate peace of mind to a standard of living. But the standard of living usually means more, like impressing your friends. When we think of peace of mind we think, “less is more.”

But we don’t mean sacrificing comfort. In fact, net zero construction in Vermont is all about comfort. By eliminating cold spots, there will be no place—not even the northwest corner of your home—that will feel cold or drafty.

And then there’s the peace of mind that comes from green living—never having to pay for electricity, heating, or cooling—ever again. And finally, a net zero home is a contribution to the environment, to lowering our carbon footprint and using our natural resources responsibly.

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