Achieving Net Zero Energy for a house can be a challenge. But what about when more than the house that needs energy? Is it possible to generate enough renewable electricity to supply all the energy needs for a home and electric vehicle? The simple answer is “Yes, it can be done”, even in an urban setting, and in a mature neighbourhood.
When the owners of our Idylwylde project came to us looking to build a Net Zero home, we assured them that their property was suitable and we could definitely achieve this goal. But then they told us that they have electric cars, and it sure would be a bonus if they could be energized with renewable energy. We knew that this might be a bit more difficult, but confident that it could be done.
We started the design process, working with our clients to produce a home that suited their needs and preferences. They wanted this home to last for the rest of their lives, ensuring that long-term operating costs will be controlled and that the plan will be future-proofed to allow for a time when age might cause mobility and self-care issues. The result was a fully accessible bungalow design, with the basement pushed into the ground to allow for a level rear entry.
The desire for Net Zero Energy stretched to include car charging. As usual, our design relied on ensuring that the home consumed as little energy as possible for heating and appliance use, but with the insurance that the renewable energy generated would allow the homeowners to operate their home “normally”. This means keeping the home to standard room temperatures in the winter and summer, and that the use of electronics and household appliances would not be spared.
We used Energy Modelling to determine how much energy we assume the house will use, and then use that information to design the solar array. Every year is different. These conditions affect how much energy we can produce with the solar array, and also affect how much energy we use for heating and cooling. More sunny days mean more energy produced, but cold winters mean more energy used. The good news is that we design the homes based on long-term averages, not just “good years”. This helps ensure that we actually hit Net Zero Energy. The home is then certified by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Net Zero Home Labelling Program.
Admittedly, that’s cutting it really close, but it’s still a surplus. So, mission accomplished! Net Zero Energy can be achieved, even with the addition of electric cars.