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Zero-Energy Homes: What You Should Know

As the environmental movement takes hold across the country, zero-energy homes have the potential to take green to a whole new level. A new renaissance of sorts is under way as builders incorporate sustainable features into mainstream construction projects. If, like many homebuyers, you’re considering going green with your home purchase, it’s helpful to know the pros and cons of a zero-energy home.

What Is a Zero-Energy Home?

Zero-energy homes rely on maximized energy conservation and on-site renewable energy to maintain inside comfort levels and household energy needs. They look like any other home from the outside, but their exterior walls are much thicker and they incorporate inside heating and cooling equipment. The idea behind the zero-energy movement is to build self-sustaining homes that produce their own energy, eliminating power from the grid.

Pros of a Zero-Energy Home

  • Cost Savings: Energy-conserving homes can provide many cost-effective benefits. Aside from the money you can save by eliminating or reducing energy costs, most states, as well as the federal government, offer monetary rebates and tax incentives. Designed to promote energy efficiency and conservation through features such as solar power and rainwater harvesting equipment, these programs can reduce the expense of these initial upgrades. Homeowners can check out the Department of Energy or Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to search for rebate and incentive programs available in each state.
  • Good for the Planet: Building energy-efficient housing that reduces electricity consumption or produces its own electricity through renewable energy systems is good for the planet. These features dramatically reduce our carbon footprint while also reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
  • It’s the Future: While many green and zero-energy features remain optional, they may become mainstream requirements in the future. Pollution regulations, which are designed to reduce greenhouse gases, are increasing every day. Going green today could save you the expense of retrofitting your property to meet future standards tomorrow.

Cons of a Zero-Energy Home

  • High Upfront Costs: Make sure to do your math carefully before purchasing a zero-energy home. While zero-energy or energy-efficient homes can save you money in the long run, their upfront costs can be huge. After all, the equipment, building techniques and materials for these homes typically carry a larger price tag — after incentives, expect to pay an upfront cost of 5 to 10 percent over the cost of a similar-sized home.
  • Health Concerns: Many materials used in zero-energy or green home construction are new to the market. While they are designed to conserve energy and promote healthier living environments, the true, long-term effect of these new materials aren’t known due to their short existence.

If you’re ready to buy, or know you will be in the future, you may want to consider jumping on the zero-energy home bandwagon. Make sure you’re well aware of the pros and cons. When you’re ready to take the plunge, head to Owners.com for a wealth of real estate listings and information.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.

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