The Zero Energy Ready Home program was created in 2008 to encourage the use of construction techniques, materials, and appliances that significantly reduce energy use in the home. The program is much more than just about energy efficiency though — it’s also about a healthier, more durable, and overall better-built home than your standard code-built home.
Here’s everything you need to know about Zero Energy Ready Homes (including why you might want to consider one for your next move).
So what is a Zero Energy Ready Home?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) — who created the program — a Zero Energy Ready Home “represents a whole new level of home performance, with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability.” Basically, these homes must all have six key components:
- A high-performance thermal enclosure
- Whole house water protection
- A high-performance comfort system
- High-efficiency components
- Whole house health protection
- Enhanced quality assurance
Are there benefits of owning a Zero Energy Ready Home?
The short answer? Yes — many.
The longer answer? Zero Energy Ready Homes provide you with cleaner air by filtering out pollutants and diluting residual contaminants from construction and general use of your home, which helps to minimize respiratory problems. They also contain high-efficiency components (such as the water heater, appliances, exhaust fans and lighting) to reduce your heating and cooling usage and, in turn, your bills. These high-efficiency components even help to make your home more comfortable to live in, as they even out its temperature and control moisture more efficiently than traditional components.
What makes up a Zero Energy Ready Home?
The six things that make a Zero Energy Ready Home unique are also requirements in each of these homes. Here’s what they are — and what they do for you.
- A high-performance thermal enclosure. This is the entire exterior of your home — roof, foundation, doors, windows, everything. Together, they seal off the inside of your home from the outside world. In a Zero Energy Ready Home, the enclosure features high-performance windows, insulation, and comprehensive draft protection to lower your energy bills and block out dust, noise and moisture.
- Whole house water protection. Water damage is a huge concern in any home, but in a Zero Energy Ready Home, you’ll find dry-by-design construction with a comprehensive water barrier system and carefully selected materials inside to control moisture.
- A high-performance comfort system. Zero Energy Ready Homes feature expert installation of high-efficiency temperature control systems, as well as heating and cooling ducts inside the thermal enclosure instead of inconvenient attics or basements.
- High-efficiency components. The items inside of Zero Energy Ready Homes, including the lighting, appliances, exhaust fans and water heating system, all feature advanced technology designed especially to use less energy and work more efficiently than traditional versions.
- Whole house health protection. While many homeowners consider the look and location of a home, they don’t often consider how the home affects their health. Zero Energy Ready Homes are the healthiest homes for their inhabitants because they contain indoor air quality systems that filter contaminants from the air that cause respiratory problems, including pollen, chemicals and dust.
- Solar-ready construction. Zero Energy Ready Homes are all built so that a solar electric system can be easily added whenever it’s convenient for you. This includes the required wiring, the ability to withstand the structural load and the electrical panel circuit breakers for a solar electric system.
To ensure that each Zero Energy Ready Home meets industry standards, a home energy rating professional will inspect the home’s construction practices and complete certain diagnostic tests. Each of these homes is certified as a DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, ENERGY STAR Certified Home and with the EPA Indoor airPLUS program.