Florida’s Net-Zero Homes

February 13, 2020



     Do you have to sacrifice comfort for your energy bill or sacrifice your energy bill for your comfort? The new answer is “no” and “no,” and it is due to what is called Net-Zero Homes. These projects are popping up all over Florida and although the construction materials and design of the homes can be somewhat complex, the concept is simple: A net-zero home is one that has the potential to produce as much energy as it consumes, in a year.  


     Net-Zero homes are the construction trend of the future, and the concept started here in Florida back in 1988. The Florida Solar Energy Center, in collaboration with the City of Lakeland municipal utility, built two homes, side by side. One of them a regular construction home (the control) and the other, a super-energy-efficient photovoltaic residence (PVRES). The idea was to measure contemporary energy efficiency (in 1998 terms), and how it can reduce the electricity usage in a typical Florida home. The results were very positive and helped birth the national Zero Energy Homes program.  


How Does Net-Zero Work?

Net-zero energy homes are built on the premise that a house should, over a year, produce as much energy as it consumes, and preferably produce a surplus that can be sold back to the local utility company. This is done by optimizing energy efficiency through airtight construction of roofs, walls, windows and foundations, while also producing its electricity through the use of solar panels. There are approximately 5,000 Net-Zero Homes in the United States today and the numbers will continue to grow. Here in Florida there several, including an ongoing project aimed at creating an entire net-zero community in Lady Lake.


Where Are the Net-Zero Homes?

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program, and a well-known Gainesville construction company, paired up and completed Florida’s first two Net-Zero homes. Forty, super-energy-efficient homes were built and of those, two of them were true Net-Zero homes that, through solar and photovoltaic technologies, produce more energy than they consume. The homes are located in the Longleaf Village and Belmont developments.

Other net-zero homes are in Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Windermere, Lakeland, Newberry, New Smyrna Beach, and Panama City.


What is the Future of Net Zero Homes?

The future of net-zero homes is already here. In California, for example, a new requirement was instituted this year that demands most new homes and multi-family buildings, (up to three stories high), have solar panels on the roof. Grassroots organizations across Florida are hoping that our state will follow suit and recent studies have shown that this is not a far-fetched nor unaffordable idea. Currently, a net-zero home can be built for only 5-10% more than a normal construction home. These homes cost so much less to live in; it is expected that the investment will come back to the buyer in a very short time. The latest calculations say that with an initial (extra) cost of $9,500 for the proper insulating of the construction, the buyer will see more than $19,000 in savings over 30 years. To make the process more attainable to the common home buyer, companies like Tesla are initiating zero-down leases on solar panels, among other financing options.


For more information about how you want your new home built, visit our website at https://www.paulculverconstruction.com/ or call Paul Culver Construction directly at (386) 763-4190.



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