Why Zero Energy Ready Homes Produce Healthy Environments

Why Zero Energy Ready Homes Produce Healthy Environments

A zero energy ready home is a high-performance home that maximizes energy bill savings, improves indoor comfort and health, reduces carbon footprint and promotes energy independence. Typically, ZERH homes are built with very well-insulated and air-sealed roofs, walls, and foundations. This minimizes the loss of heated and cooled air, which is critical for reducing energy use dramatically.

Clean Air

Zero energy homes produce healthy air by excluding outdoor pollutants from the indoor living space. They are built to be very airtight and have less than four air changes per hour, limiting the amount of outdoor pollutants that can enter the home. Besides air sealing and insulation, these homes also have a strong fresh air ventilation system that brings in filtered incoming air to expel stale air. Depending on the type of building, this ventilation might be a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). These systems exhaust stale, “bad” air from the living space and capture the heat from that air to keep the incoming air fresh and cool. They also filter the incoming air for small particles and other indoor pollutants. These systems also provide a high degree of humidity control.

Clean Water

Zero energy homes produce clean water by using renewable resources to power their systems. These include roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity, solar thermal collectors that use the sun’s heat to heat water and geothermal heat pumps that harvest the ground’s natural heat. The most cost-effective way to generate zero energy is with a combination of these systems. The most common system is solar PV and a ground-source heat pump, but other systems can be used.

Healthy Communities

Healthy environments and homes help build stronger communities. They provide cleaner air, reduce heating and cooling bills and improve the health of their inhabitants. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has a Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program, which provides a checklist to make a home energy efficient and comfortable. It allows builders to achieve ZERH using one of two performance paths, prescriptive or verifier-determined. By incorporating advanced energy-efficient construction techniques and high-efficiency components, ZERH homes reduce their environmental impact. They also contain indoor air quality systems that filter contaminants from the air, reducing respiratory problems and increasing indoor comfort.

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