What Is a Zero Energy (Net-Zero) Home? 

When the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site, a building is considered to be net-zer0 


At times, the home runs on non-renewable energy, but at other times the home reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas production elsewhere by the same amount. Most Zero Energy Homes get half or more of their energy from the grid, and return the same amount at other times


Elements of Net-Zero Homes

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Renewable Energy

Explore what renewable energy options there are to power your net-zero home

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Energy Audits + User Monitoring

Monitoring your home's energy use is key to ensuring your home does not have energy leaks and is operating to standards.

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Passive Solar Design

A passive solar design can maximize your home's energy effeciency by harnessing sunlight for heating and cooling.

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Smart Design

Designing your home allows you to maximize functionality, comfort and efficiency.

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Efficient Appliances

Energy-efficient appliances and lighting drastically reduce energy consumption

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Sealing your home to prevent energy escapes is easy with proper insulation

Cost of Building a Net-Zero Home

Increasingly buyers are looking for homes that are airtight and well-insulated with low energy bills and, increasingly, realtors are finding that energy efficiency features positively affect the value of a home.

Net-zero homes are worth the investment, especially when considering that they have a higher resale value than similar homes built to code. In fact, a 2012 market study by Yahoo! Real Estate shows that 50% of Americans now consider green and energy efficient features a part of their “dream home.” (ZeroEnergyProject)

Cost Comparison of Homes in Massachusetts and Oregon


In a 1,200 sq. ft. zero energy home in a Massachusetts development (2012 sales price around $195,000), before rebates and tax incentives, the added cost compared to a similar home built to code came to:

Framing Double-studded Walls, Rafters: $1,670

Super Insulation: $5,970

PV System: $33,000

SunDrum Hot Water Heating System: $4,500

Windows: $689

Before all rebates and tax incentives, the additional costs for zero energy came to $40,393 or about 20% of the sales price.

After all tax rebates and incentives and cost savings available in Massachusetts, the added costs came to about $9,000 or 4.6% of the sales price.


In two very similar 1,500 to 1,530 sq. ft., zero energy custom homes (average 2013 sales price around $400,000), the added cost compared to a similar house built to code, before rebates and tax incentives, broke down as follows:

Shell upgrades (insulation, framing, doors, and windows): $7,000 to $12,000

HVAC upgrades (heating, cooling, ERV, electrical and plumbing): $3,000 to $4,000

Solar PV and hot water: $36,000 to $40,000

Before all rebates and tax incentives available in Oregon, the average additional costs for these zero energy homes came to $51,000, or approximately 13% of the sales price.

After rebates and tax deductions available from the federal government and in Oregon, the total added cost for these custom-built zero energy homes was $10,00 to $14,000, which is less than 5% of the sales price.


Source: ZeroEnergy

Why Net Zero Homes Are A Great Option

There are many benefits that come with Net-Zero Homes, such as home durability and reduced electricity costs. These homes come in many shapes and sizes, so there are many choices when it comes to designing or buying a home that is right for you. 

Scroll below to find what perks can come with these homes. Read about other advantages of net-zero homes here

Prepare for Increasing Prices

Energy prices can be volatile and tend to increase year after year. With a zero energy home, you pay the same amount over time – zero or close to zero – because you generate all the energy you need on site.

You'll have peace of mind knowing that you live in a home that conserves energy and produces it. 

Health and Comfort

A home is more than four walls- it is a sanctuary for you and your family, a gathering place to make memories with friends and relatives, and a place where you feel protected and comfortable. 

Because zero energy homes are built to a higher standard, you’ll breathe the cleanest air, feel the most at peace and rest knowing your home operates to some of the highest efficiency standards. 



Zero energy homes are durable and made from the bottom up to ensure every aspect of the home contributes to a net-zero goal. 

Features such as dense, air-tight walls, fresh filtered air, and advanced window technologies, ensure that your home is better protected and more durable than the average home.

Infinite Designs

A zero energy home can fit your life and your style. These homes can range from mansions to development homes, to small cottages and tiny homes. Zero energy homes can look like any other home or have their own unique  style.

Green Homes vs. Net Zero Homes

What's The Difference? 

A "green" home can be an already built property that has been modified to a more green and energy efficient state through appliances, smart technology whereas a net zero home is usually an entirely new structure (it is built from bottom to top with energy efficiency as the goal).

While "green" houses follow many of the same ideas and building planning as zero-energy homes (heavy insulation, ventilation, solar heating, and focus on removing leakages, etc.), they don't adhere to the same strict standards as zero-energy homes.

What Can I Expect to Save on Energy?

The percentages of energy saved in a "green" house are decently high (60-80%), while the energy saved in a net-zero home is 100%. The investment is worth the cost, as you also save money on energy. 


Net-Zero Home 

Breakaway walls on the lowest level to withstand potential flood pressure while remaining structurally sound

Super-insulated building shell with continuous insulation, airtight construction, and triple pane windows

Passive attributes capture varying views and natural light, affording year-round comfort

Energy consumption is offset with clean energy production from a 20kW solar electric system

Balanced heat and energy ventilation systems provide constant fresh air while managing humidity levels

Source: ZeroEnergy

Virgina, U.S

What Else Should I Consider?


Seattle, Washington

The cost of building any home, especially a net zero home, depends on factors such as location, the type of land, the size of the house, the design, special additions, appliances, and even your credit.

According to MySitePlan, the average-sized family home costs around $240,000. The average net-zero energy home of the same size costs around $263,000.  Have a zero-energy home costs only a little more, on average, than a regular home. That increase works out to be less than ten dollars per square foot! Don't forget that your energy savings also add to the return of investment.


Things to Remember

If you're looking to save money on your energy-efficient home, MySitePlan recommends following the homeowner's "Two R’s": 

Reduce the Home Size:

Homeowners and home builders often find that reducing the size of their structure/home by even one small room (for example, by 240 square feet) can result in huge savings every month. It's worth considering reducing size when designing your home. 

Rebates Get You Money::

Look for rebates when buying energy efficient appliances (there are often rebates offered both from manufacturers and the store where you buy the appliance from)

Utility companies also offer significant rebates/discounts to customers who utilize energy-efficient appliances in their homes. These savings can potentially save you thousands of dollars every year. (MySitePlan)

Solar Energy Installation

Realty Sage and Energy Sage have partnered to make it easy for homeowners to install solar energy. 

EnergySage offers valuable educational resources, calculators and marketplaces to help you learn about and shop for solar with confidence. These services are totally free and 100% online, no calls unless you want them.



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