Zero Energy Prefab Homes — All You Need To Know
Being committed to the well-being of the environment doesn’t mean just reducing your environmental impact. It also encompasses the efforts made to create a restorative effect. And in that regard, zero energy prefab homes effectively exemplify this.
Zero energy prefab homes utilize renewable energy resources to meet their requirements and place a great focus on energy conservation. This article sheds light on different aspects of zero energy prefab buildings — so, let’s get started!
Zero Energy Building — The Definition
A zero energy building is a building that has a net zero consumption of energy. This means it creates enough renewable energy to meet its requirements. And so, the amount of energy used by the building is equal to the amount produced onsite. Such a building is also known as a ‘Net Zero Energy building’.
Types of Zero Energy Homes
Zero energy homes focus on the conservation of energy. They are designed to retain heat during the cool months and lose heat during the hot months. Such homes also have additional features to improve efficiency.
Radiant Barrier Home
Radiant Barrier homes have radiant barriers installed (mostly in their attics). These barriers, found within the walls, aim to prevent the loss of heat. As a result, this regulates the temperatures of the interior, keeping it warm during winter.
Passive Solar House
A Passive Solar House is designed to allow plenty of natural light to enter. It also has features to collect and store the energy obtained from this natural light, and later utilize and distribute it throughout the space.
Solar Hot Water Heating System
Another essential aspect of zero energy prefab homes is their self-reliance in terms of heating water. Instead of burning fossil fuels (non-renewable energy resources) to produce heat, they capture thermal energy from the sun’s rays to achieve the purpose.
These systems work by first installing collectors (a type of solar panel that generates heat in place of electricity) on the exterior of the home, preferably the rooftop. These collectors heat the fluid within them, which then flows through the heat exchanger (series of pipes situated in the water tank). The heat from the fluid is transferred to the water, hence heating it.
This is especially useful for prefab homes because, for such buildings, construction occurs in warehouses, with the final product being delivered to the site. Hence, time and money both can be effectively saved.
How to Achieve Net Zero Energy
There are multiple ways to utilize renewable energy resources to generate sufficient heat and electricity for the building, thus helping it achieve net zero energy. The most common amongst these are as follows.
Energy-efficient lighting fixtures are readily available in the marketplace and serve as a great way to reduce energy consumption through lighting. Reducing the need for excessive artificial light by allowing natural light to enter is another optimum way to become energy-efficient. This natural light can be reflected by using light colors for the walls and hanging mirrors as decor, both of which make the space appear brighter during the day.
The walls can be utilized to achieve net-zero energy by reducing heat exchange between the interior and exterior. One example of this is using barriers within the walls and complementing them with rigid foam insulation. Double-wall construction is also another way to reduce heat exchange between different rooms of the building.
Adequate insulation applied to the roof helps reduce heat loss and conserve energy. One instance of this is using a ‘green roof’. This involves planting a layer of vegetation on the top of the roof, which provides insulation to the building and improves air quality among other benefits.
In addition to conserving heat, zero energy prefab homes focus on generating sufficient heat to meet the energy requirements of their residents. This is mostly through the installation of solar panels, which either produce heat directly or generate electricity, which, in turn, powers heating sources (such as heaters).
Ventilation is achieved in zero energy prefab homes through Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs). These are energy recovery ventilation systems that boost the exchange of air amongst differently-heated spaces.
Heat is majorly exchanged through the windows. In that regard, glazing the windows is an optimal solution. This helps reduce energy exchange, which resultantly reduces overall energy consumption. From single glaze to double glaze, there are plenty of options to choose from.
According to sources, if an average-sized home costs $240,000, its zero-energy prefab counterpart would cost $263,000. Additional price increments kick in when homeowners are required to upgrade their appliances (such as the refrigerator and dishwasher) in order to comply with the requirements of a zero energy home.
However, homeowners can expect to save around $600 annually in electricity bills. This means the initial investment can actually help residents save a good amount of money a few years down the lane.
Energy Efficiency and Savings
Zero energy homes can cater to most of their energy needs (approximately over 90%), meaning homeowners won’t need to rely on external, more expensive sources of energy. This resultantly helps save money annually — when seen past the initial investment, such homes actually make for a cost-effective option.
Smart Investment Option
As such, zero energy prefab homes are a smart investment option. They not only save energy and conserve the environment but also serve as a great way to reduce one’s reliance on non-renewable energy resources. The prize? Saving money annually after the initial investment!
Zero energy prefab buildings are economical and cost-effective, while also conserving energy and promoting self-reliance. A breakdown of their elements reveals that while the initial cost may be high, it can actually be recovered a few years down the lane — and the self-sufficiency that accompanies it makes the investment worth it.