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What's a ‘Net-Zero’ House?

Energy conservation has grown from a fringe fad into a mainstream movement, and as more people become interested in cost savings and environmental stewardship things like net-zero houses continue gaining in popularity – but what is a net-zero house? Most simply, a net-zero house is a dwelling that consumes zero net energy from the municipal power grid and has zero carbon emissions. Sound impossible? Probably, but it’s actually not as hard as one might imagine, especially when building from the ground up. <strong>Size Matters</strong> Net-zero houses don’t have to be small, but smaller spaces are generally easier to manage when it comes to energy conservation within a home’s “envelope.” The envelope describes the barrier through which heat passes into or out of a house and is a crucial element in achieving net-zero status. The size of the home reduces the need for energy by placing a smaller workload on the envelope for temperature control, but also by encouraging more efficient choices. A smaller space requires less lighting and supports fewer large (and perhaps largely unnecessary) appliances. <strong>Unsealed Envelope</strong> Assuming your house has windows and doors, these portals to the outside world are also the path of least resistance for your heating and cooling. As such, care must be taken in the choice and installation of your doors and windows. Fortunately, products like these come with <a title="ENERGY STAR Efficiency Ratings" href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_find_es_products" target="_blank">efficiency ratings</a> – if they are indeed efficient – and you can take that rating into consideration as you work toward your net-zero goals. <strong>Wind &amp; Fire</strong> So, now that you’ve got the energy-saving part down, it’s time to focus on energy-<em>making</em>. Since a net-zero rating requires no carbon emissions, fuel-burning generators and wood heat are out. Natural gas is also deemed a no-go due to the impact from harvesting it, which leaves solar and wind power. Solar panels are the most popular route to grid freedom, but wind turbines designed for residential use continue to advance in development. Some people might even choose to use a combination, and a few may even achieve “energy-plus” status – a home that actually creates an energy surplus. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes this review of net-zero homes gives you some ideas on how you can save money and energy. <strong></strong>
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