As you explore the possibilities of solar power, you might wonder if you can supply all your electricity needs this way. Each solar power project will move you closer to a net-zero home.
However, you may be unsure if it is possible to be genuinely net-zero with an all-electric solar home.
You can transition from purchasing electricity to solar energy in a series of steps over time. Unfortunately, many homeowners can’t replace all the appliances with Energy Star choices, but keep reading to see what you can do to move toward more sustainable energy reliance.
Can You Be Truly Net-Zero With an All-Electric Solar Home?
Yes, you can be entirely net-zero when you shift from traditional electricity usage to solar energy. Whether a new home or a renovation, it can be done with some reasonable energy efficiency work, then solar to zero net energy usage.
When you see the benefits of becoming a net-zero all-electric solar home, you can begin an exciting journey toward having an independent energy source.
What Makes a Home Entirely Net-Zero?
A net-zero home is just like any home, only with renewable energy sources instead of electricity purchased from a corporation. If you live in an existing home or are planning a new build, you can take the steps toward being so energy-efficient that you need no additional electricity to power your home.
Net-zero specifically means:
You produce as much energy as you use.
Whether it’s an individual home, a huge corporation, or even a country (think all the Net Zero by 2050 plans we see in the news), it means canceling out your energy usage with as much renewable energy production.
Most states offer tax incentives for adding solar panels to your home. Not only can this reduce the cost, but it provides an incentive to produce as much solar power for clean energy from the sun as possible to power your home.
What Net-Zero Means for Solar Power
A net-zero goal for your home means your solar power system supplies all the electricity you need daily without supplementing with traditional electricity. When there is enough renewable energy to power your home, you have no need for more, which moves you closer to carbon neutrality.
When you reach net-zero home status, energy use contributes no greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Aiming to keep your home net-zero is a way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels (like traditional electricity).
Steps to Take Towards Creating a Net-Zero Home
As you set goals to convert to green energy, understanding the steps you should take to achieve them will help you get there faster. Discovering the ways you can change your environment and habits will move your home toward having no electricity bills since you can produce all the energy you need.
Any home can become efficient, from the cold regions of Michigan to hot, humid Florida homes.
Here are some steps toward achieving a net-zero home:
- Evaluate your current home or home design for energy efficiency – you can have an energy specialist assess your home for areas where you can be more efficient. For example, you can often see where you could make your home more airtight. Even turning off the lights when no one is in the room helps.
- Assess your habits with electricity – are you wasting hot water that heats with electricity? Look at your daily routines to see where you could make them less dependent on electricity.
- See if your home has energy leaks – many homeowners live in drafty houses due to old windows. Replacement windows will reduce the energy leaks to make your home airtight. Assess all the areas where you might experience wasted energy.
- Replace lights with energy-efficient LED or compact fluorescent lights – these bulbs last much longer than traditional bulbs to reduce energy consumption.
- Check the appliances – if your devices are old, chances are they are not Energy Star-rated. You can reduce energy consumption by replacing old appliances with new, energy-rated models. Start with one and work toward replacing all appliances over time.
- Reduce water consumption with shower heads – low-flow shower heads can minimize the wasted hot water while ensuring you still have a good shower.
- Consider a solar water heater – a solar water heater takes up less space than a traditional model and produces all the hot water you need. In addition, wash more clothing in cold water to reduce the use of electricity to heat water.
- Add ceiling fans to rooms – when you add ceiling fans to rooms, especially bedrooms, the temperature can feel almost five degrees cooler. This allows you to change the thermostat to use less energy heating or cooling your home.
- Install better insulation – insulating your home well will reduce the electricity you need to keep it warm or cool and increase energy efficiency.
- Install a clothesline to dry clothing – use less electricity by hanging clothes and other wet items on an outdoor clothesline or drying rack.
- Check the caulking around doors and windows – when you remove leaks by using clear caulking to seal windows, doors, electrical outlets, and other areas where energy filters out, you move toward more energy efficiency.
- Replace an old HVAC unit with an energy star model – ductless mini-split heat pumps are quiet and efficient, cutting your electricity consumption without sacrificing comfort.
Our Own Solar Net-zero Home Renovations Proves It’s Possible
There’s still a lot of great information below (I think anyway), but I just wanted to share our own projects as proof that it’s totally possible.
The First Solar Netzero Renovation
This is a mid-80’s three bed two bath 1800 square foot home in Cape Coral, FL. I wanted to prove that doing a netzero renovation was completely possible, and also affordable to boot.
There’s so much to say on it, but you can read the entire case study here if you’d like to see how we did it. I designed it with enough reasonable efficiency and solar to also power the electric car (Tesla Model 3) for the entire year (10,000 miles).
Our Second Netzero Home Renovation in Saint Petersburg, FL
In 2021, I tackled a second renovation project after the first one was successful. This is a 1954 block home in Saint Petersburg, FL, and I live in it now. It’s a 1140 square foot 3 bed 2 bath smaller home with a one-car garage.
This one was tougher given old original cloth wiring, plaster walls, and basically every single thing needing to be renovated. The roof faced east-west with some shading, so I had to overcompensate with more solar production vs. efficiency on it. But it all still worked really well.
To read about this full case study, you can read about it by clicking here.
How To Add Solar Energy to Your Home
Solar panels can help you harness the sun’s power and convert it to electricity for your home. While changing to solar power can seem confusing, there are specific steps you can take to move toward renewable energy.
Find Out if Your Home Is Suitable for Solar Panels
As you consider converting from electricity to renewable energy, one of the first steps is to have your home evaluated for solar panel installation. For solar panels to work well, they need to be in the direct line of the sun for most or all day.
If tall trees, buildings, structures, or mountains block the sun, you might need to modify the surrounding areas.
Estimate the Power Solar Panels Will Produce for Your Home
Look over the past year of electricity bills to see your average energy consumption. This process will tell you how much energy solar panels need to produce to take your home to net-zero consumption status.
Keep in mind that homes in Florida will need fewer solar panels to produce the same amount of renewable energy as Wisconsin homes because of the sun they receive in a year. The number of sunny days directly impacts the solar energy production for your home.
The average home needs twenty-five to thirty-five solar panels to achieve the net-zero home designation.
Choose Rechargeable Electronic Devices
You might not realize it, but rechargeable devices reduce the electricity you use. You diminish your reliance on traditional electricity when you make small choices like using rechargeable electronic devices.
For example, replacing phone chargers with solar-powered models can be a small step toward net-zero home status. Every choice counts as you move toward solar efficiency.
Benefits of Creating a Net-Zero Home
Energy costs rarely go down and rise at a steady rate. When you can produce all the energy your home needs with renewable sources, you won’t have to worry when the rates increase because you will stay at net-zero regardless of the electricity cost.
This independence is a significant benefit of taking your home to a net-zero balance.
Some other benefits of moving to complete solar energy production include:
- A net-zero all-electric home has improved air quality and interior comfort.
- Your home will weather the ups and downs of electricity costs over time because you are self-sufficient at a net-zero balance.
- Power outages won’t cause stress since you are not reliant on purchased electricity.
- You will reduce your carbon footprint with the renewable energy your home creates.
- The well-insulated, airtight walls and windows can increase the longevity and value of your home.
- Any size home can make upgrades to increase energy efficiency, reducing the need for outside electricity.
Consider Purchasing a Net-Zero Energy Home
A net-zero energy home looks like other homes but with cutting-edge technology that ensures the house is energy-saving. By using recyclable materials, thick insulation, and innovative exterior designs, these self-sustainable structures can save money for years of energy independence.
Consider the benefits of a net-zero energy-ready home when you are in the market for a new home. These dwellings can have a built-in solar panel design, other modifications, and superior building materials to reduce your carbon footprint by relying on renewable energy.
Once you install the solar panels, your home can start generating electricity for ongoing, reliable energy needs like cooking, showering, and cooling.
Anyone can move to an all-electric solar home with easy changes to their habits and some modifications to their home energy systems. Even minor changes can make a big difference when combined with a lifestyle change toward relying on renewable energy.
A truly net-zero home will produce all the electricity you require to eliminate the need for additional purchased electricity. Current solar energy systems can generate all the electricity you need when accompanied by a storage system.
- Solarponics: Net-Zero: What Does It Mean And How Is It Achieved?
- CNET: Find out if your house is a good candidate for solar energy
- The Leveredge: Top Five Benefits of Solar Water Heaters for Home or Office
- Jacob Heating and Air: Don’t Use Ceiling Fans In Winter? Here’s Why You Should
- ZDNET: 10 steps toward making your home ‘net zero
- Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar
- Energy Sage: Solar 101: solar power systems explained
- Nexamp: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
- Efficiency Vermont: How to make your home net zero
- Zero Energy Project: What are Zero Energy Homes