Very Low Energy Homes in the United States: Perspectives on Performance from Measured Data

Report Number





Zero Energy Homes; Monitoring; Buildings


We present measured annual performance data from a dozen recent-vintage very low energy homes in North America. Many of the designs combine greater energy efficiency with solar electric photovoltaic power in an attempt to create Zero Energy Homes (ZEH). We also provide measured data from the first home constructed to the German Passivhaus standard in the United States. Several projects either exceeded or come very close to true net zero energy when evaluated over a year.The data indicate that very low energy use buildings can very readily be achieved in North America. Annual energy use half that or less than standard housing can be achieved for an equivalent cost of $0.10/kWh from the efficiency investment. In general, the better cost effectiveness seen from energy efficiency measures indicates that greater investment in conservation should be a prerequisite to installation of solar water heating and solar electricity in Zero Energy Homes. However, over emphasis in efficiency is also possible. This suggests that optimization tools such as BEOpt, which characterize both renewable resource performance and that also of specific combinations of energy efficiency measures, will best guide designers to locate the most economically favorable mix to reach an energy neutral level.

Date Published



Monitoring; Buildings - Zero Energy Homes

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