Do you want to save money – and help save the planet? Of course, you do! Making your home net zero energy is perhaps the best way you can do just that. And creating a zero-energy home is probably more achievable than you think.

Building technologies have matured over the last few decades, redefining what is possible for the average homeowner. With integrated solutions that work together to harmonise the entire building’s performance over multiple disciplines, it allows anyone to upgrade to a net-zero-energy home.

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What is a net-zero-energy home?

All homes use energy – for heating, lighting, cooking and that tablet you watch Netflix on. Achieving a zero-energy home is about reducing your energy use to the absolute minimum, and covering your remaining needs with renewable energy. And reducing energy usage significantly is where you need to focus. After all, saving a unit of energy (kWh) is 14 times less carbon-intensive than producing a unit of energy (kWh) using wind and 25 times less carbon-intensive than solar cells. In other words, you should focus on trying to reduce your energy needs as much as possible before resorting to other measures. A cost-effective way to reduce energy usage is to ensure that none is wasted – and this is where stone wool insulation can truly make a difference with its excellent thermal properties.

It’s not uncommon for households to use more energy in the evening. In these periods, the home would draw upon the grid to supply the energy needed, while in other periods it would supply excess energy to the grid. That’s where the ‘net’ comes in; the net sum of energy taken from the grid and supplied to the grid is close to zero.

Why are zero-energy homes desirable?

Net-zero-energy homes are becoming more popular around the world. It’s estimated that by 2028, Europe will have around 2.4 million net-zero-carbon buildings. While the public sector and real estate developers are leading the way, it doesn’t mean private owners should lose out. Zero-energy house plans require an energy-efficiency assessment of the existing structure and adopting high-performance technologies that reduce energy consumption wherever possible.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home to reduce energy consumption is a sound investment. Not only will it produce significant energy savings over a building’s lifetime, but it will also help increase immediately property value and provide a more comfortable living environment.

How do you achieve a net-zero-energy home?

Achieving a net zero energy home is all about reducing your energy consumption as much as possible. The main use of energy by households in the EU in 2018 was for heating their homes – 64 percent of the final energy consumption in the residential sector –  with renewables accounting for more than a quarter – 27 percent – of EU households space heating consumption. Changing your lightbulbs and switching your appliances to energy class A+ devices might be a starting point, but to get all the way to nearly zero energy, you need to make some alterations to your home.

These steps include:

  • Installing insulation to improve the thermal performance of the building to reduce the impacts of the outdoor environment on the indoor climate.
  • Eliminating thermal bridges in the walls, floors, and ceilings using stone wool insulation.
  • Optimising the heating, cooling, and lighting systems for maximum energy-efficiency and capitalising on natural light as much as possible.
  • Making the building as airtight as possible to reduce the amount of energy required to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.

To achieve this, you will need to source the right products and materials that provide superior performance over the lifespan of the house. Stone wool insulation can help you achieve the thermal performance required to reduce your energy consumption without compromising on your indoor comfort.

Stone wool insulation as a passive thermal barrier

Installing stone wool insulation to prevent thermal bridging and increase thermal performance can reduce consumption by up to 70 percent.

There are stone wool insulation solutions available for any kind of situation. To improve your home’s thermal performance, you can use insulation in:

  • Outer walls – With exterior wall insulation systems, including render or cladding, you can design a thermal barrier that does not compromise on your house’s aesthetics.
  • Attics and roofs – Installing stone wool insulation granules, slabs, or rolls in the attic can prevent heat or cool air from escaping, helping reduce energy consumption to maintain a comfortable indoor climate.
  • Interior walls – Systems that fit into all types of internal walls and barriers. Additional benefits include fire-resistivity and superior acoustic performance.
  • Basements – Insulating the basement ceiling will make floor temperatures more comfortable and reduce energy costs as it provides an additional thermal barrier.

The enhanced properties of stone also bring additional benefits to your home, such as fire-resilience and better acoustic performance. Stone wool insulation can withstand temperatures of more than 1,000°C (or 1,800°F) while absorbing and reflecting unwanted noise for a more comfortable indoor climate.

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A passive home case study using stone wool insulation

The passive house standard originates in Germany and promotes using natural influences to enhance a building’s indoor environment. Sunshine, shading, and ventilation combined with superior insulation and an airtight design can achieve up to 90 percent improved energy-efficiency.

In one instance, architect Maria Grazia Novo decided to upgrade a house that dated back hundreds of years, requiring a complete renovation while staying true to the local building traditions. She chose stone wool insulation to help her keep the traditional appearance while achieving the first passive house build in a Mediterranean climate back in 2005.

B&B Cherasco -  REDArt Case study

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