Three Benefits of Building a Net Zero Energy Custom Home

Posted by Paul Biebel on Oct 7, 2016 4:40:58 PM


At Prudent Living, Inc., we specialize in custom designed “High Performance” homes, and can build you a “Net Zero Energy” home, should you decide that is the best way to go for you and your family. Prudent Living defines a net-zero energy home as, “a home that generates as much energy as it consumes, measured on an annual basis.”

We believe that this is going to be the standard for ALL construction within the next twenty to thirty years. Since 1976, when I started Biebel Builders, Inc., we’ve kept our company on the leading edge of custom home building in our area. Since 2009, Prudent Living, Inc., has been a thought leader and implementation leader in the arena of high-performance custom homes. While our services include education and inspiration, we’re always pleased to help clients reach their goals when it comes to “net zero energy” by building their custom designed home for them.

PERFORMANCE is the first benefit of a net zero energy home. Our integrated building approach ensures that each new home project is delivered to optimum energy efficiency standards. This is achieved through the work of its credentialed Building Performance Institute trained staff, long-term experience involving related resources and technologies, and genuine commitment to sustainable construction and the environment, which we believe to be part of good stewardship for our clients and us.

In the context of high-performance building construction, this means delivering a home that is properly insulated, with minimal air leakage, efficient heating, and cooling with heat pumps or geothermal systems, and efficient windows, appliances, and lighting. Prudent Living works closely with clients to build a home that is efficient, safe, healthy, and within their budget.

It’s always a positive when potential clients come in well prepared. By the way, reviewing this series of blogs is a good place to start, and consulting other documents we have made available on our website and also via can also be very helpful in preparing your list of questions (see: and Recently a couple came in to discuss their dream house, and I was very impressed with their understanding of energy efficient construction, and with their commitment to efficiency and building performance in general, especially with the comment that energy efficiency should take precedence over more visible elements of the building package - those other things they knew could wait.

It was a delightful change of pace to meet with potential home-builders who were more concerned about energy conservation than dream kitchens, window walls, expensive flooring and tile, and home theaters. They wanted those things, too, but decided that investing in the performance of their home was the most prudent first step. They did the math and realized that after they had lived in the home for a while, enjoying the benefits of minimal energy costs, they could apply these savings to cosmetic upgrades and other pleasures, or just keep it in the bank.

After showing them our five-minute introductory video on High-Performance Construction Strategies (, we talked about a variety of subjects, including types of insulation, thermal barriers, indoor air quality management, and advanced framing techniques. Their eyes didn’t even glaze over! I thought I was in builder heaven!

PAYBACK is the second major benefit of building a net zero energy custom home. The couple in question “got it” right away in relation to renewable energy options. We discussed how over the span of a thirty-year mortgage, their operational savings could be as high as $200,000.00, compared to an identical house built to minimum energy codes at the same time as theirs. I have to admit that my exuberance about this subject sometimes comes on a bit strong - especially when speaking with first-­time home buyers.

They knew that once they cleared the hurdle of home ownership and moved into a home, the next big hurdle would be saving for their children's education. They were concerned that unpredictable energy costs could wipe out their savings and that anything other than a “high performance” offering could become a liability rather than an investment over time. They also understood that anything less than an energy efficient, high-performance home could be unattractive to own in the future and could have an adverse effect on resale value. There is little doubt that annual energy consumption will play a key role in how we value real estate in the future.

I’ll often ask prospective clients to imagine a time ten or more years in the future when they may choose to sell their house, and to also to imagine the typical future buyer of a resale property. Let’s say that there are two “for-sale” houses that catch the buyer’s eye. One house is yours; the other belongs to your neighbor. Both houses have great curb appeal. From the outside, it is clear that these houses are extremely well-built and maintained. Likewise, their interiors are equally as attractive. There is virtually nothing wrong with either house. When your house was built, you invested into sustainable strategies; your neighbor did not.

During your ownership, you have recovered all the money you invested, and much more because your annual energy bills are almost nothing. But your neighbor's house consumes about $3,500.00 in energy costs annually, and every time the cost of fuel and electricity goes up, their ownership costs increase. Although your neighbor’s house may have cost about 10 percent less to build than your house did, their energy costs have doubled during their ownership, while yours has remained unchanged. In addition, your investment in climate control heat pump technology has provided you with heating and cooling; the neighbor’s system offers heating only. Investing “prudently” has offered additional bonuses, as well. You are a homeowner with fewer concerns about fluctuating energy costs, and one with greater peace of mind in knowing that your initial investment has met all your expectations while contributing to your home’s greater resale value.



Times have changed quickly; almost overnight. It wasn’t long ago that the typical home buyer, in choosing between two comparable homes, would ask, “Which of these two houses cost less to buy?” That was then. Now, doesn’t the more logical question seem, “Which of these two houses will cost less to own?” The answer is clear. Should you decide to invest in your own future by building a net zero energy home, we are confident that you will NEVER regret that decision. And it will definitely increase your “peace of mind.”

by Paul Biebel, President - Prudent Living, Inc.



Download the Ultimate Guide to Net Zero Home Construction

Paul Biebel

by Paul Biebel

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