Trends in Propane

Zero Net Energy Homes for Homebuilders

Zero Energy Homes image

Interest in Zero Net Energy homes is increasing, which presents homebuilders with a new challenging set of construction decisions. How can you respond to customer demand for green home designs, technologies, and energy-efficient appliances? 

What is a Zero Energy Home?

Simply put, a Zero Energy home, also referred to as a Zero Net Energy home, or ZNE home, produces as much energy as it uses. You can achieve ZNE home status by increasing a home’s energy efficiency and adding a renewable energy source such as solar to offset the home’s remaining energy consumption. 

How is Energy Usage Measured?

It’s important to ensure your customers understand the difference between site and source energy when working toward an energy-efficient home strategy. Site energy measures only the energy used at the house and doesn’t account for upstream losses or energy production, which is why it’s known to be less accurate.

Source energy is a more accurate measurement. It measures energy use starting at the source, including the energy required to extract and process fuel.

When analyzing source energy ratios, propane wins hands down. Data based on national averages shows that it takes 3.03 units of energy to produce and deliver one unit of energy in the form of electricity to a home, versus just 1.15 for propane.

What is a HERS score?

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is used to measure efficiency. The lower the score, the better. ZNE homes have a score of zero and typical homes have a significantly higher score around 100.

To maximize a ZNE home’s energy efficiency and lower its HERS score, here are three things you can do: 

1. Focus on the building’s envelope. Achieving ZNE goals begins with reducing the loads on the building and focusing on building envelope priorities such as insulation quantity, air sealing, window performance, and house orientation.

2. Include high-efficiency propane appliances. Larger home systems generally consume significant amounts of energy. Water heaters, furnaces, and generators should be the first to transition to high-efficiency propane appliances. Propane can also power several other high-efficiency appliances throughout a home including kitchen ranges and ovens, fireplaces, space heaters and clothes dryers.

3. Trim other energy use. Energy Star appliances, LED lighting, and energy monitoring devices can help further cut a home’s energy consumption.

How Propane Can Help?

Propane is a clean alternative fuel and can be used nearly anywhere, including beyond the natural gas grid. Often used in ZNE projects to power back-up generators, water heaters, fireplaces, and cooktops, high-efficiency propane appliances are helping builders and homeowners achieve energy-efficient living.

In addition to increasing a home’s energy efficiency, propane appliances produce much fewer emissions, which is important to any builder concerned with their property’s carbon footprint. For instance, a propane tankless water heater reduces emissions by 67 percent compared to an electric storage tank model.

Incorporating propane appliances into a ZNE build significantly lowers a home’s energy consumption, making it easy to achieve sustainability goals and deliver premium performance to homeowners. For homebuilders, building ZNE homes could be a great way to differentiate your company from other builders and take your homes to the next level, helping you get more bids and more business. 

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