Why Net Zero Energy Homes Embrace Smart Home Technology

John Wechsler
03/12/2018 in Know How
Recently our team has been working on several Net Zero Energy Homes, and we wanted to share some of the things we’ve been learning along the way. In an earlier post, we went over how we have been able to use 61% less energy than our neighbors. This time we dive a little deeper and talk about Net Zero Energy Homes specifics.

What is a Zero Energy Home?

A Zero Energy Home produces as much or more energy than it needs. Besides cutting your energy bills to zero and reducing the cost of ownership, these homes are environmentally friendly, efficient,  and independent of fossil fuels.

There are quite a few factors to take into account when building a net zero home, and in this post, we have identified two significant factors where Smart Home technology kicks in and helps to achieve the net zero target; A perfectly insulated home, and technology that helps save you energy.

 Energy Use in Regular Homes

We covered it before, but here’s a quick recap on where tech comes into play when reducing a homes energy needs. According to the US EIA, energy costs are distributed as follows:

  • Space Heating 41.5%
  • Lighting, Appliances, electronics 34.6%
  • Water heating 17.7%
  • Air conditioning 6.2%

Of course, these numbers will vary immensely based on location, size of the home, etc. Think space heating needs vs. air conditioning in Las Vegas. But overall, heating & cooling combined will account for almost 50% of energy needs while lights will account for 20% to 30% of your energy needs.

Heating & Cooling in Net Zero Energy Homes

The most critical aspect of any net-zero home is doubling down on insulation. A well-insulated house preserves the heat during cold winter days and keeps things chill during hot summer days, reducing the need for heating and cooling.

To further reduce heating & cooling, Smart Home tech allows for zoned heating & cooling in homes. Our home in Philadelphia has a zoned system where every single room is controlled individually, allowing us to set up different temperatures and schedules in each room. Think of heating the bathrooms only in the mornings and evenings, while keeping guest rooms chill at all times.

We also have a couple of other neat little features in our home that help us save energy without lifting a finger:

Economy Mode

Automatically kicks in when there is no motion in the house for an hour and lowers the temperature throughout the house. When we come back, heating & cooling kicks in again.

Window Monitoring

When I open my bedroom window, heating & cooling shuts off for that room, in order to avoid blowing heating & cooling right out of the open window.

By zoning the heating & cooling and adding some intelligent features, Loxone reduces energy needs for heating and cooling by up to 60%! It also adds to the overall comfort in the home as the temperature is spot on throughout your home.

The Importance of Shading

You might be thinking, what does shading have to do with saving energy? Well, a lot! Think of a hot summer day where the sun permeates through your windows. In this case, our A/C has to run at full blast to keep the room at bearable temperature levels. That’s why we connect shading with heating & cooling. On hot summer days, the shades will move automatically, even if you’re not at home, to keep the sun from overheating your rooms, and on cold winter days, we use the energy of the sun to help to heat the room. Depending on your home, site, and windows this can add up another 30% in energy savings for heating & cooling.

Lighting Control in Net Zero Energy Homes

Lighting control in a Net Zero Home is no different from any other home. The key is to choose the right lighting fixtures and to automate lights in order to utilize energy saving potential. We recommend going 100% LED. This should be considered standard by now, however, we still see lots of non-led fixtures being sold.

All of our light fixtures are low voltage, further increasing their efficiency.

Automating lights helps us to save energy in several ways

Once you leave a room, lights will turn off automatically. During the nighttime lights will be dimmed, which is both convenient and energy efficient, as an LED light dimmed to 50% will also only use half the energy.

Meet Net Zero Energy Homes with Loxone Technology

OK, we’ve covered quite some ground on the theoretical side. Now here’s how Net Zero Energy Homes with Loxone actually look and feel like:

Acre Designs, California

We’re also proud to announce, that the innovative housing startup Acre Design in California is now using Loxone as its lighting fixture and controls provider. Each and every beautiful home they build is a Net Zero energy home. Even as I write this blog, you can see these homes popping up everywhere, nationwide. Here’s a first-hand look:

The Perpetuum Smart Home, Austria

This home not only looks unique and stunning, but it also produces more energy than it needs. It is a flagship home that one of our Loxone partners outfitted for a state exhibition which has drawn more than 200,000 visitors to date. Learn more about the Perpetuum Smart Home.

Is Buiding a Net Zero Energy Home Affordable?

According to the Zero Energy Project a Zero Energy home will cost you 5% to 6% more than a regular home if you utilize all the energy incentives that are available today. I recommend you check out their website for further reading as there is a lot more to Zero Energy Homes than I can cover in one blog. They also did a great list of 20 reasons to consider a Net Zero Home.

Looking to Automate your home? Let’s Chat!

Whether you’re a homebuyer, a Smart Home installer, or a Homebuilder: Get in touch with our Smart Home experts, and we will work out a solution tailored to your home and needs.

I would like to learn more about LOXONE