Reason 4: Your Home Will Pay You Back Over Time
Over the span of a thirty-year mortgage, your operational savings could be as high as $200,000.00, compared to an identical house built to minimum energy codes at the same time. Sustainable strategies really do make a difference! Yes, there might be an initial 10 percent difference in building cost, due to the high tech, high performance elements that are part of a custom zero energy home.
For example, in a custom zero energy home you begin to see the savings immediately. As early as the first utility bill after your new home’s technology takes over, depending on what time of year it is and what climate you live in, the utility company may owe you money, because your meter has been spinning backward. Next door, that beautifully conventionally built home has used its typical $300 or more per month in combined utility cost. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that at $3500 annually in savings, the extra $35,000 you invested in high performance net zero producing construction technology will be back in your bank account in ten years (and this estimate assumes that utility costs will not increase). And after that, the house continues to pay you back (or should we say it pays you forward?).
You don’t have to fully understand how a geothermal system can extract and concentrate enough heat from the ground (where the temperature is a constant 58 degrees) to keep you as toasty warm as you want to be in winter, and it does so up to six times more efficiently than a gas furnace. Nor do you have know how a geothermal system cools in summer; only that your new geothermal system will be much more efficient than a traditional AC for summer cooling. In addition, a geothermal system provides hot water, while traditional design requires a separate water heater. For a lay level discussion of this, see: http://energy.gov/energysaver/heat-pump-systems.
Likewise, you do not have to know all the details of how your solar panels generate electricity to understand that it is clean and renewable by comparison with other sources. A recent government analysis estimated that about 67 percent of electricity generated in the USA was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum), 20 percent from nuclear, 6 percent from hydropower, and 7 percent from renewable sources: hydropower, biomass, geothermal, solar, wind. For more information on this report, see: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3.
Finally, at least for today, you don’t have to completely understand how ductless, mini-split heat pumps (the system we often recommend) work to provide heat only to the zones (rooms) you choose at any given time. A thermostat in each room controls that zone’s temperature. You can be warm in one room and leave an adjacent room cool. This kind of pinpoint control of heat or air conditioning is one factor that makes this system preferable to most others for heating and cooling. You will still need to fuel your stove and hot water heater, and that is where your photovoltaic system fills in the gap. See: http://energy.gov/energysaver/ductless-mini-split-heat-pumps for more information on mini-split heat pumps.
The main thing that you do need to understand is that, when these and other available sustainable and renewable energy related technologies are designed into your new home plan, you will be saving money while doing your personal part to save our planet, one home at a time.
And if you choose our company to help you reduce your carbon footprint, we’ll be doing our part as well.