It is possible to build homes that produce all the energy they need, or even return more to the grid than they use. And get this – many new homes, even brand new ones built in 2015, are extremely inefficient in their energy use.
These ultra-efficient homes are costly, so you may or may not be able to purchase all their improvements. But they may inspire a few things you could modify or renovate on your home to increase your own energy savings:
- Homes Built for Passive Solar Purposes
These homes, contrary to how they sound, are built to take best advantage of how the sun works. There aren’t necessarily solar panels in these homes.
To understand what we mean, for example, these homes are built with the longest side of the home facing south and having the most windows. That catches the most sunlight. Windows aren’t as prevalent on the east and west sides of the home, where sun won’t shine as long. In fact, the windows on those sides of the home are intentionally smaller, so they don’t lose the heat caught from the sunlight.
The roof of the home may also have a slight overhang to block too much sunlight from entering the home through windows near the roof. Passive solar homes use around 10% of the energy consumed by a similar-sized home.
- Earthship Homes
These sound pretty high-tech, right? They are in concept, but their actual construction is decidedly low-tech. For example, their internal walls get built from recycled glass bottles. External walls are made from cement, recycled glass bottles, and recycled cans.
Solar panels and small wind modules create electricity. Rainwater from the roof gets filtered into a storage tank. Wastewater is used to fertilize plants and the garden.
- Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems
These systems use 90% of the heat exhaust your home expels, and they transfer that heat to the intake air for your home. They also remove stale air from your kitchen and bathrooms and supply fresh air to your bedrooms.
Could you imagine a 90% lower heating bill?
- Ultra-Efficient Homes Have Tight Air Envelopes
They’re constructed so tightly that you can control all the air that enters or leaves these homes through a single small pipe. And that’s how the heat recovery ventilation system is able to remove the heat from all the exhaust air.
Most modern homes have leaky air envelopes at best, which greatly harms energy efficiency in summer and winter.