HVAC Choices for “Zero Energy” Homes

Eveyone has asked the question “So what kind of HVAC system do you put in a house that is supposed to, at the end of the year, use ZERO energy?” at one time or another. This article by Gord Cooke, which was originally published in Mechanical Business, September 2014, answers that question in detail…

Well, of course, that may sound like an oxymoron and at least isn’t a very fair question. But it is worth considering the optimization of HVAC options for what has been referred up till recently as Net-Zero energy homes. The nomenclature may be changing due to an initiative by the Department of Energy in the US. In looking at better ways to communicate the value proposition of homes that, on average, only use as much as they are able to produce themselves on site, they are considering the term Zero Energy homes. Lets not get caught up in this article in the long debate as to exactly how to define “zero energy”; does it include all energy use, big screen TVs, long showers, should it be carbon neutral, should it include power or fuel transmission losses? Moreover, I am not talking about the in-the-woods, off-grid, earth-berm house that has a little wind mill. I want us to consider the thousands of more mainstream zero-energy homes that are being built across North America this year. In this regard allow me to hint simply at some of the HVAC option considerations that we have been going through generally at our company working with five mainstream builders who are this year building Zero Energy homes in Ontario and specifically decisions I have been wrangling with for my own new modest cottage that is now under construction.read more