The path to zero energy homes

by Li Ling Young, Senior Residential Energy Consultant

In recent months I have been traveling to town energy committees throughout Vermont with a presentation to recruit homeowners for participating in a Zero Energy Homes pilot program.

What is a zero energy home?

A Zero Energy Home (ZEH; often referred to as a net zero energy home) is a building that either uses no energy or one that generates as much energy as it uses. So, how does a home become a Zero Energy Home? All ZEH projects include these basic elements: vigorous energy conservation, renewable energy generation and a renewable energy-based heating system.  However, the path to zero energy is unique to each home and family.  Starting with why and how the owner wants to pursue zero energy, the path is also determined by house size and condition, renewable energy resource and the future needs of the family.  Efficiency Vermont is investigating how to guide homeowners to retrofit their homes into ultra-low energy homes. Below is my presentation on ZEH and the pilot program at Efficiency Vermont;

You can also check out the video of this presentation that I gave in Brattleboro, VT in March of 2014.

In 2012, the Department of Public Service commissioned a report to determine an approach to thermal energy that would accomplish the efficiency goals of the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP).  According to that report, “Comprehensive and rapid weatherization of Vermont’s buildings will bring two significant benefits to homes and businesses: (1) Vermonters will be less vulnerable to volatility in the fuel market and to effects from dramatic weather fluctuations, and (2) more money will stay within the Vermont economy.“

Increasing the number of Zero Energy Homes is one path to help Vermont meet the CEP goals – and reap those big benefits. I’d love to hear your thoughts; please leave your comment below.

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