Let’s take a look at the elements of green home design, and how we can build a zero energy home on a budget. If you are looking to make your existing home greener and more energy efficient, you should be able to extrapolate the main points and apply them to your existing home.
Renewable Energy Systems do not have to cost a fortune
Unlike what many people may think, designing and building a green home does not involve a fortune, and can be done on a budget that is comparable with what it would normally cost to build a traditionally constructed home. Further, if you would like to outfit your new home with PV solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, or a solar hot water system, it does not have to cost a fortune if you keep these factors in mind; many states provide generous solar rebates to homeowners as an incentive to invest into green technology and renewable energy systems. In addition to solar rebates, many states require utility companies to buy back the electricity that your solar system generates at the rates that are often higher than what you would normally pay for a kilowatt hour.
Solar Payback Period
You may be able to make back the money you would pay for a professional installation of a solar power system in five to ten years. With an average life of solar power system being 20 years and longer, you would actually be earning money from your PV solar power system. Not a bad way to make a buck, appraise the value of your home, support the growth of renewable energy technology and support the environment.
If you are planning to put up solar panels on your existing home, I would recommend replacing your old roof with an energy efficient standing seam metal roof, which would make it easy for solar installers to attach PV solar panels to the seams of a metal roof with the help of a special mounting system. This method does not require any penetrations made to your roof.
By combining solar panels with a green metal roof, you will get a “penetration-free” roof, which will lessen any chances of a roof leak in your home, and will not require replacing at some point in the future. Factor in extra energy savings from reduced cooling costs, home appreciation, and looks to see why it is a no brainier!
If you live in the northern geographic zone, having a metal roof will also help prevent. It can be really messy when you have to deal with ice dams on a roof that happens to have solar panels, or a solar hot water system installed. Trust me, you do not want to be in that situation.
Passive Solar Design
Passive solar design is one of the least costly green home design solutions for new construction homes, and home additions. Passive solar design involves the use of longer roof overhangs to provide a shadow over the walls and windows of a house. Further, you can design your home to have rooms with glass walls and glass ceilings facing south for solar exposure. Inside the rooms you would have solar thermal mass floors, walls that can be made of bricks similar to the brick fireplace, or walls made from poured concrete. You can also use concrete blocks for easier assembly instead of mixing, pouring and forming concrete walls by yourself. Concrete is a good material of choice because it is reasonable inexpensive and has high thermal mass (HTM), which is what you want to have for effective passive solar design.
You can also integrate thermal shutters around your windows. You can close your thermal shutters at night to reduce the heat loss.