Learn about the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home

Learn about the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently held a webinar on marketing and sales solutions for Zero Energy Ready Homes (formally the DOE Challenge Home). The presentation was intended to help builders communicate how they’re Zero Energy Ready Homes live better, work better and last better.

A Zero Energy Ready Home represents a full suite of building standards and technologies that offer a cost effective solution, while still exceeding expectations for comfort, energy savings, health, and durability.

In the webinar, the DOE states that only a select group of builders in the industry (about 1%) are currently able to meet the extraordinary guidelines that are built into every Zero Energy Ready Home.

The Zero Energy Ready Home is well positioned from a marketing point of view: There are code homes, which represent the basic level of energy efficiency. Followed by Energy Star Homes, which are above code, and now there are established guidelines for the Zero Energy Ready Home. This is a home that is fine-tuned for efficiency. So efficient in fact, that a small solar power system can offset most or all utility bills.

Among the many requirements for DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes are:

  • The homes must comply with the Energy Star for Homes Program. They must have gone through the required inspection checklists for thermal enclosures and HVAC quality installation.
  • The homes must feature Energy Star compliant appliances and fixtures.
  • Windows must meet Energy Star specifications.
  • The homes must meet 2012 levels of International Energy Conservation Code for insulation. For perspective, Energy Star Program Homes must only comply with a 2009 IECC level of insulation.
  • Homes must have ducts that are installed in conditioned space, as recommended by the most current research standards.
  • Homes must utilize the EPA’s Indoor airPlus Program to certify that indoor air quality is fully compliant.
  • The homes should follow the provisions from the Consolidated Renewable Energy Ready Home (RER H) checklist, thus enabling savings down the road on future solar power system installations.

Participants of the webinar learned of marketing opportunities offered by Zero Energy Ready Homes. When comparing a standard home to the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, the DOE concedes that the hard costs for materials will be higher than with the code home. But they say that doesn’t represent the entire cost equation. There are others factors, for example, where the customer call back experience is almost nonexistent on a DOE home, compared to the callback experience for builders of standard homes. This is due of course, to the enhanced attention to detail and quality of materials used. They also stressed that the marketing costs must be considered. This is where the Zero Energy Ready Home shines. As a rule, innovative homes require much lower marketing costs since they by default receive an enhanced amount of coverage in the marketplace, compared to a standard home. At the webinar, the DOE sums it up by stating: “What we want you to take away here is an effective look at the real costs -- not just the hard costs but also the business cost, servicing homes, for marketing the homes -- in the end, in fact, the DOE Challenge Home is no more costly to the builder than to construct a standard home.”

The webinar highlighted several value propositions that the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home offers. They include:

  • The homes will be incredibly exclusive. Only 1% of builders can reach this level and people really do care who is building their dream home.
  • These homes are tech savvy. There is a solid foundation of building science put into each home.
  • These homes are forward-looking. They comply with standards that are far ahead of other currently built homes. In fact they are built to meet and exceed a forthcoming code of requirements.
  • They are ultra-efficient.
  • These homes go beyond comfort. Homeowners will benefit from extraordinary attention to detail by controlling the air, heat, sound, and moisture flow in every home.
  • They are not just beautiful, they are healthy. Continuous fresh air, filtered with the latest technologies for a healthy family.
  • They represent the pinnacle of quality construction.
  • Their value will endure. The DOE says that the advanced levels of affordability, comfort, quiet, health, durability, quality, and future performance offered by every Zero Energy Ready Home are too compelling for future buyers to ignore. They believe this is where all housing will be headed.

The DOE has now offered a wealth of information and materials from the webinar online. To learn more about the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, visit their website here.