When people talk about zero net energy homes, they’re often referring to brand new homes that are designed to be net zero from the start. But existing homes can be retrofitted to be zero net energy (ZNE) as well, and California homeowners are looking to take advantage of clean home energy and create a more sustainable home to live in.
Here’s what you need to know about zero net energy homes—specifically the upgrades you can make to an existing home to make it net zero and how to find the right contractor for the job.
What Is a Zero Net Energy Home?
A zero net energy home—sometimes called a net zero energy building—is one that generates as much or more energy than it consumes over the course of a year. This is accomplished in three main ways:
- Reducing energy waste—Homes that use less energy are easier to make zero net energy, and the first place to start is by working to eliminate energy waste. This is primarily accomplished by making a home very airtight and well insulated.
- Using high efficiency appliances—Once you’ve addressed energy waste, you can upgrade to appliances and systems that use cleaner energy (electricity, not fossil fuels) and require less overall energy to operate.
- Installing renewable energy—To offset the remaining energy that an energy efficient home needs to run, renewable energy is needed. When enough renewable energy is generated, this leads to “net” zero (or even net negative) home energy usage!
How to Make an Existing Home Zero Net Energy
There are many services and upgrades to help make your home zero net energy. A home energy audit from a contractor experienced with zero net energy retrofit upgrades is a great place to start—with the results of your audit, you’ll have a better understanding of the energy your home is both using and wasting and you’ll know where and how to upgrade.
Sticking with the three main categories we listed above, here are some of those upgrades you can make to an existing home:
Retrofits to Reduce Energy Waste in a Home
Zero Net Energy Appliance and Home System Upgrades
- Ducted heat pumps or ductless mini splits
- Heat pump clothes dryers and heat pump water heaters
- Induction cooktops
- Variable speed pool pumps
- Smart home controls
Renewable Energy Installation
Find a Contractor for Zero Net Energy Retrofits with the Clean Energy Connection
As you can see, there are many different components that go into making an existing home zero net, so it’s important to find a local contractor that understands and has experience with ZNE upgrades. That’s where the Clean Energy Connection can help!
The Clean Energy Connection is an online directory connecting California homeowners with qualified and vetted contractors who specialize in clean energy and energy efficiency services like the ones you need for zero energy home retrofits. The directory is easy to filter by location, company name, services offered, and even rebates so that you can be sure to take advantage of the many incentives available to lower the upfront costs of your energy efficiency upgrades.
Best of all, there are no hidden strings—the Clean Energy Connection is funded by a non-profit committed to clean energy initiatives throughout the state, and it’s completely free for both homeowners and contractors. We have no financial stake in who you choose, so you can feel confident that the contractor you choose is actually the best company for the job.