Net Zero Energy Homes (ZEH)

A Net Zero Energy Home, also called a Net Zero Home or Zero Energy Home (ZEH), is any home that generates the same amount of clean green energy as it uses. This lowers the cost of home ownership, increases the value of the home, and increases the homeowners ROI.

Today, most of the new homes BPC Green Builders builds are designed to achieve net-zero energy use, and many of these homes have won local, regional, or national awards and recognition. We have also renovated and retrofitted existing homes to become Zero Energy Homes.

How Does BPC Define Net Zero Energy Use?

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) predicts the amount of net energy a home will use. To qualify as a Net Zero Energy Home for BPC Green Builders, the home’s HERS score must be 0. If the home’s HERS score is below 0, (-1, -5, -10, or lower), the home would be called a Positive Energy Home. A new conventional home, built to the national energy standard (currently based on 2006 IECC requirements), would have a HERS score of 100 for comparison.

Net Metering and Zero Energy Homes

If connected to a power grid, a ZEH generates excess clean energy at times and feeds that clean energy back into the power grid to fully offset any energy the draws from the grid at other times, resulting in “net zero energy” usage. The home’s clean energy is usually generated by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

For a home to send energy back to the grid, it must be connected via a bi-directional electric meter, also called a net meter. This meter essentially runs forward when the energy from the grid is going to the home and backward when the home is feeding energy back into the grid.

Net Meters run forward when using energy from the power grid and backward when the home is feeding the clean energy it generates back into the power grid.

Benefits ALL Net Zero Energy Homes Enjoy

Financial incentives that offset the cost of a PV solar system

Because of federal tax credits—and in our service area, state, local, and/or utility financial incentives—the full cost of installing a PV solar panel system is reduced. This lowers the cost of your ZEH.

Complete cost recovery of PV system costs quickly

Achieving net zero energy use can mean energy savings of thousands of dollars a year, allowing you to recover the cost of your PV solar system quickly. In our service area, electricity is more expensive than it is in many parts of the country, so the payback period can be in the range of 7-10 years.

Zero electricity expenses from your power company

If your home is a Net Zero Energy Home, your annual electrical bill will have net zero costs for electrical power. As electricity rates become more expensive over time, you will not experience those cost increases.


Storms happen more frequently now. Trees fall, and the power goes out for thousands. If you have PV solar panels with a backup battery system installed, your home will have some or all the power it needs to keep your essential lights and appliances running, depending upon the season and the size of your battery system. 

Helps mitigate the climate crisis

Energy generated from PV solar panels is sustainable power and has no carbon footprint. It is 100% clean, green, and plentiful. All fossil fuels, oil, gas, and coal contribute to the climate crisis. Not one of these fuels will help the world achieve zero carbon emissions. Electricity from nuclear power plants may not have a carbon footprint, but the nuclear fuel and the power plant itself pose serious environmental problems and risks.

Expected higher resale value of home

Depending on the part of the country and the home, current resale values for energy efficient homes with solar panels are approximately 2% to 12% higher than equivalent homes that are not energy efficient and have no solar panels. A recent Zillow survey of homes with solar panels in the New York City area indicated they sell for 5.4% more than comparable non-green homes.

The Benefits of Starting with a Custom Green Built Home

A Net Zero Energy Home can start as any home, including:

  • An older existing home
  • A conventionally built new home
  • A home built to or renovated to a green home building standard

Any of these homes, after installing a PV solar panel system large enough to offset ALL the energy the home pulls from the power grid as well as a net meter, can be called a Zero Energy Home.

However, starting with a custom built green new home such as a Zero Energy Ready Home, Passive House, LEED, or National Green Building Standard Home comes with additional advantages:

  • The size of the PV solar panel system can be much smaller and less expensive.
  • Green built homes will be more comfortable than conventionally built or renovated homes, even those that qualify as Net Zero Energy Homes. Green homes are built to be virtually air-tight and are super-insulated; this means no drafts from outside and a more even temperature and humidity level throughout the home.
  • Older and conventionally built new homes do not normally have fresh air ventilation systems, radon prevention and mitigation systems, or high-performance air filtration systems, so green built homes are often healthier with higher indoor air quality.
  • Non-green homes may have building materials that give off unhealthy gasses known as VOCs.

A Net Zero Energy Home is Possible Even if You Use Some Natural Gas

If you can’t live without a gas stove or gas fireplace, you can still have a Zero Energy Home. To do this, you need to generate enough excess electrical energy with your solar panels to offset the greenhouse gasses caused by your use of natural gas.

Net metering practices vary from area to area. Offsetting your use of gas by installing additional solar panels may or may not provide the same financial benefit as offsetting your use of electrical energy from the power grid.

However, if Net Zero Energy is what you are seeking, it can be accomplished.

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