For the obvious reason, solar power plays a big part in home energy efficiency. It’s the component that allows most homes within Vermont to become energy independent and achieve annual net-zero energy consumption. Just how important is solar in achieving net-zero construction in Vermont? And what are the big differences you’ll find between solar-powered, high-performance homes in Vermont, and the more standard non-solar offering? Three highlighted examples below may help in this comparison:

High-Performance Custom Home

1. According to home energy experts, a home that is constructed to high performance or net-zero standards may consume up to 70% less energy than the same home built to International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) only. Adding a renewable energy component such as solar to the mix, and your total energy expense becomes insignificant!

While an IECC standard house is typically well-built, it is in stark contrast to the home built to high-performance building specifications while offering a renewable energy source such as solar. Simply put, the high-performance home can be shown to significantly reduce total homeownership cost. Often, the solar energy produced by roof panels or a ground array via photovoltaics may be more that the electricity needed at any one time by the home’s occupants.  Many utilities, through a ‘net-metering’ process, credit the energy produced in excess of occupant’s need to  A solar energy building houses a special solar-powered electric grid with appliances, such as a solar water heater, that run from sunlight. This clean energy source is gathered from solar panels on the roof via photovoltaics.

2. Solar power in a zero energy home saves a lot more money.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Okay, I appreciate the environmental benefit of solar. But what if we go a few days in the winter without seeing the sun?” 

Glad you asked! The ‘zero’ in the term comes from the energy cost tallied up each year. Solar power by nature is weather dependent. It isn’t uncommon at all to find a solar-powered home collecting surplus energy in the summer and much less in the winter. The standard electric power serves as a backup during lean times. Though the amount of energy collected changes by the day, the net-zero energy homeowner in Vermont should find that the amount of power generated onsite and power used (on an annual basis) evens out. Thus, the total cost of consumed energy rounds to $0 by the end of the year.

3. Solar power is just one component that contributes to a zero energy home.

Important as it is, solar power does not achieve energy efficiency in Vermont by itself. Sticking solar panels on the roof of a standard house is not the same thing as installing them on a high-performance home. The construction of the home, the energy efficiency of its appliances and the prudence of its occupants are all major factors that play in achieving these remarkable energy savings, much like the musicians in an orchestra. By working together in their roles as one, the beautiful melody of smart environmental living can be heard and enjoyed for years to come.

Solar Power – The Future of Energy Efficiency is Now

These three examples showcase just a few of the many benefits with solar power and how it enhances opportunities for homeowners to achieve net-zero energy in Vermont. And Vermont isn’t the only state that has begun using solar power as a primary energy source. Like Vermont, many other states like Texas, Arizona, and California are meeting the “Better Buildings Challenge” program and have adopted this green source of energy into new home construction. If you’re interested in learning more about incorporating solar power into your building plans, these resources are a good place to start.