Could We Be Closer Than We Think to Net-Zero Energy Homes?

Net-Zero-EnergyA state known for creating big, bold energy-efficiency strategies now has another one to add to its resume: by 2020, the state of California wants all new home constructions to be net-zero energy homes.

According to a June 10 Greentech Media article, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) recently launched the Zero Net Energy Action Plan, which is aimed at creating a self-sustaining market for all new residential constructions to be net-zero energy.

“Zero Net Energy has been a vision for California for nearly 10 years, and with this industry-supported Action Plan, we are now ready to make that vision a reality with feasible, market-driven concepts to transform the new residential housing market,” CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman said in a statement.

By definition, zero-net energy homes are able to produce as much energy as they consume on a yearly basis, using a combination of high energy-efficiency and onsite energy generation from clean, renewable sources. Zero-net energy homes can often be seen with solar panels in place of roof shingles.

Currently, residential energy consumption accounts for one-third of California’s total energy use. In addition to single-family home constructions, the CPUC and CEC’s mandate will also apply to multifamily homes less than three stories tall, as well as low-income housing.

Whether California’s plan will become reality is another matter. The UK made a similar goal to have all new homes be net-zero by 2016, but ultimately abandoned the effort a few years ago. However, with high energy-efficiency becoming the standard in home appliances and costs for clean energy generators falling, it may be possible for California’s mandate to become a reality.

“We have had many of our customers ask about energy efficient appliances,” said Lorie Parker, Sales and Marketing Coordinator for Synergy Homes. “I think that moving to a zero-net building standard across the board will be very difficult and take some time, especially in a place like Savannah. I could not even imagine how much it would cost for just the solar roofs alone!”

Surprisingly, California isn’t the only state in which these net-zero energy homes are beginning to take off. According to a June 17 Digital Trends article, custom home builders are constructing net-zero energy homes everywhere from Gettysburg, PA, to New Mexico.

When these homes can save homeowners as much as $200,000 in energy costs over a 25-year mortgage, it’s no surprise that net-zero energy is becoming one of the most talked-about trends in today’s home construction industry.