Below are some commonly asked questions about zero energy home construction and The CT Zero Energy Challenge:
- What does "zero net energy" mean?
- Zero net energy simply means that a given home uses no more energy than it produces on site. For example, if a home used 7,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity over the course of a year but it produced 7,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity from a solar PV array over the same period, it could be considered a zero net energy home.
- What does mechanical ventilation mean?
- Mechanical ventilation is a way of controlling the amount of air that enters and leaves a building. In a very well constructed, well insulated and air-sealed home, measures must be taken to ensure that the home is still able to "breathe" to prevent mold and rot and to ensure healthy air circulation. This can be achieved through various means, including something as simple as a continuously running exhaust fan in a bathroom, or as complex as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) that exchanges stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while maintaining the same indoor air temperature.
- Must a home include on-site power generation to reach zero net energy?
- While homes are being built today that require very little energy use (such as Passive Houses), it is virtually impossible to achieve zero net energy without some kind of on-site energy production. This can come from various sources, including solar PV, solar thermal, or wind, depending on the specific site conditions.
- How do I select which HERS rater to use?
- There are various ways to find a HERS rater in your area. If you live in Connecticut, CL&P and UI have a list of HERS raters on their web sites. You can also check out the national Residential Energy Services Network site which has a list of HERS raters from across the country.
- What programs are available to help build a Zero Energy home?
- A number of state and federal programs exist to help you learn about and finance the construction of a near zero energy home. The Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund's Residential New Construction program (in which all the Challenge participants are enrolled) provides monetary incentives for various aspects of high efficiency building, including ENERGY STAR certification, insulation, and geothermal systems. On the renewables side, the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) offers rebates for the purchase of solar PV as well as leasing options for qualifying homeowners. CEFIA also offers solar hot water and geothermal incentive programs.
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