Zero energy homes and buildings are here to stay. You can buy the technology off the shelf and the economics have never been better. However, there is one aspect of the zero energy movement that hasn’t quite taken hold yet: effective marketing. How we present the benefits of “zero” to consumers and members of the housing industry is in need of an upgrade.
Many consumers are still struggling to understand what “zero energy” is about and why it’s a good choice. Many builders, designers, real estate brokers, and lenders fall into this same category. Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect of the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready (ZEHR) program, recently released a video that lays out a clear, comprehensive explanation that can be applied to better, more persuasive marketing for zero energy and zero energy ready homes alike. According to Rashkin, zero energy and zero energy ready homes are:
- Future Ready
- Moisture Ready
- Comfort Ready
- Tech Ready
- Health Ready
- Zero Ready
- Performance Ready and
- The Expert’s Choice
Zero Energy Ready Homes are Future Ready
Building a home to code means that its energy performance, health, and comfort will be obsolete the minute the next building code cycle bumps up insulation levels, equipment efficiency, or other features. A zero energy ready home is far more advanced than code built homes. Building or buying a zero energy ready home means you’re getting the home of the future – today.
Zero Energy Homes are Moisture Ready
Comprehensive moisture management delivers peace of mind to homeowners. The cold, wet weather that hit many regions this winter provided a great example of this with enormous ice dams developing on code-built homes, while zero energy and zero energy ready homes remained untouched. Building according to best practices for moisture control prevents water damage, mold, and decay, creating a more durable, healthier home. Homeowners will feel secure and builders will be relieved of warranty claims and emergency repairs.
Zero Energy Homes are Comfort Ready
Unlike homes of the past, high-performance homes exhibit less variation in mean radiant temperatures due to enhanced insulation, reduced air leaks, and better windows. Air flow and fresh air are optimized for comfort and relative humidity and drafts are non-existent, keeping occupants comfortable and happy.
Zero Energy Homes are Health Ready
Zero energy and zero energy ready homes contain a package of materials, equipment, and features that allow homeowners to experience a superior level of health. While it’s true that occupants can diminish this benefit with unhealthful furnishings, cleaning agents, and other materials, a zero energy home as delivered by the builder is designed and built so occupants have control over the air quality inside their homes. The fresh-filtered air and enhanced protection from outside pollutants can reduce allergies and asthma. The result is a healthier home and peace of mind, especially for families with inhalant allergies.
Zero Energy Homes are Tech Ready
With extremely low energy used by space conditioning and water heating, most of the energy used in these advanced homes goes to lighting, appliances, and electronic devices. These plug-in devices consume more than half the total energy used in a high-performance home. Zero energy ready homes address these plug loads with more energy efficient electronic products – everything from advanced dishwashers to network-enabled water heaters – giving homeowners state-of-the-art technology that is far superior to what is found in standard homes.
Zero Energy Homes are Performance Ready
Zero energy and zero energy ready homes must meet stringent quality-assurance standards. Each of these home-performance standards must be verified independently by third parties. The result is a better, more durable home that buyers can count on.
Zero Energy Ready Homes are Solar Ready
A zero energy ready home has reduced its energy use to the point where a relatively small array of solar electric panels can supply all the needed electricity and reduce energy bills to close to zero. A few minor and inexpensive components already built into the home allow homeowners the option of easily installing solar panels when the time is right for them. For both builders and homebuyers, a zero energy ready home provides flexibility and a lower cost option than zero energy homes.
Zero Energy Ready Homes are the Expert’s Choice
The specifications for zero energy ready homes are based on best practices recommended by building science experts. Both builders and buyers, as well as lenders and realtors, can rest assured that a zero energy ready home is a better home. After all, it’s the home that building scientists endorse.
One unique aspect of the ZERH program is how they have attempted to jettison jargon. There are many technical terms used to describe high-performance homes which inhibit communication with buyers more than they enhance it. To clear the air, Sam Raskin has developed a Zero Energy Home Translator. Give these power words a try the next time you are explaining the benefits of a zero energy home.