Reason 3: Every Room Your House Can Be as Warm or Cold as you want it to be in a zero energy home.
Sometimes when I think back about the old way of heating a home and what we can do now, I marvel at the changes, progress, and the options that we can offer you today. For example, travel back with me to the day when the only heat source was a pot-bellied stove. In the dead of winter in Vermont, the room that stove was in was sometimes very hot and then as you moved away from it on the same level of the house, the cold took over progressively. There was the option of letting the heat circulate via open grates to the second floor, but even so, it was difficult to stay uncold in the unwarmest part of winter unless you did a slow pirouette next to the stove, in which case you became a human rotisserie. In addition to the inconvenience of being at least half cold most of the time, the inside air was smoky all the time, and there was lots of dust on everything in the house, by spring.
Net Zero/High Performance homes are essentially designed as “all electric,” with a Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) system that will offset the projected electrical load. The challenge is to focus on optimal design for a house with as little energy load as possible, combined with super insulation and air tight construction. Once that goal is achieved, we can then size the PV system to match in your zero energy home.
As emerging technologies of Net Zero and High Performance Construction methods evolve, I believe that the days of installing carbon-based, central heat in new single family homes will vanish like a snowflake on a heated sidewalk. Likewise, the all-to-common and dirty “furnace/utility room of yesteryear” is also disappearing because the only equipment that we need to find a place for is a hot water heater and an electric panel.
By combining super insulated thermal envelopes with triple glazed windows and air tight construction, we are calculating projected heating and cooling loads as low as one fifth of what they were just five years ago. One of the best inventions to come along are individually controlled and monitored Cold Climate Heat Pumps which can deliver heating and cooling where and when you want them. In other words, you can set the thermostat in each room at what you want it to be. Believe it or not, you can now have it warm in one room and cold in another at the same time! How sweet is that? The only drawback that I can think of and that is that they function at their best only in High Performance designs.
As with all grand statements of vision, we confess that we do have one exception to our diminishing reliance on fossil fuels. We offer emergency power systems that run on liquid propane gas. This backup comes into play only when the energy being produced by the solar panel array is not producing as much power as the home needs, for example when it is very cold and also very cloudy outside for long periods of time. For more information on this and other questions related to net zero energy construction, see the free downloadable ebook below.