How can I cut costs on my zero energy home?

Discussion in 'Building a Net Zero Energy Home' started by Austin, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. Austin

    Austin New Member

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    We are planning to build a small 3 bedroom zero energy home, about 1,500 sf in Southern Oregon. We are trying to cut back on our costs. Does anyone have any suggestions about how we can cut our costs and still get to zero? Our biggest expenses seem to be the triple pain windows, the double walls and the HRV system. Can we get to zero without them?
     
  2. Bruce Sullivan

    Bruce Sullivan New Member

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    The exact configuration of a net zero house depends on several factors, including climate, solar exposure, size and many more. The best way to optimize your project is to analyze your plans with a computerized energy model. The model and a knowledgeable advisor will help you identify the most cost-effective path to reach zero energy. Having said that, there is good news on some of your specific questions. You can now buy reasonably-priced vinyl-framed windows with a heat loss rate of U-0.25 or lower. That's equivalent to an insulation value of R-4. These windows have two low-e coatings and thermally-improved spacers between the two panes of glass. They are far cheaper than triple-pane products.

    In your southern-Oregon climate, you will probably find that wall insulation will need to be higher than the R-23 achievable in a 2x6 wall. Concerning walls, I dig into the eternal question of the least expensive way to achieve high-R walls in a recent blog post.

    Ventilation can be tricky, because all homes need good ventilation. While ventilation is essential, heat recovery isn't. Again, climate is a big factor and your energy model will identify the amount of potential savings from heat recovery. I covered some effective, low-cost ventilation systems in a recent blog, too.

    There's tons of great information here at ZeroEnergyProject.org. Please investigate the site for good ideas to support your project, and drop by this forum for answers to specific questions.
     
  3. David Landry

    David Landry New Member

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    HI Austin, I don't know if you are still interested in advice about building your Net Zero home, but I am a sustainable building designer living near Ashland Or. I just finished building what I consider an affordable Net Zero home for myself and moved in last April. I did use triple pane windows, double wall construction and a ductless HRV system to achieve the goal, but I there are other options. Because the whole house really needs to looked at as set of systems with many variables, it's hard for me to get very specific without knowing more. If you want to contact me for a conversation, I'm available for that. I'm not selling anything, I'm not looking for work, being mostly retired. However, I believe anyone building a new home has an ethical responsibility to build the most energy efficient home they can afford, so I enjoy talking and sharing about it.
     

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