Near-Zero Energy Homes

Built with the eventual goal of producing as much energy as they consume, near-zero energy homes incorporate the most advanced energy efficiency features for heating and cooling, lighting, exterior, insulation, roofing and solar power.

  • Heating, cooling and water heating. Through EnergyRight Solutions, TVA offers financing for high-efficiency heat pumps in participating local power company areas. Unlike other systems, which convert fuel to heat, heat pumps work by moving heat from one place to another, making them highly efficient. In cold weather, heat pumps remove heat from the outdoor air and move it inside the home; in hot weather, heat pumps remove hot air from the indoors and move it out, leaving behind cooled, dehumidified air. We recommend geothermal heat pumps that use the ground to absorb or dissipate heat through a series of pipes buried below the frost line (where temperatures are more constant). These pipes capture excess heat that can meet your water heating needs, providing virtually free hot water in the summer and significant savings on water heating throughout the rest of the year. Learn more about our heat pump incentives.
  • Lighting. Compact fluorescent lamps use 66% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs, while providing the same amount of light. Plus, we recommend placing windows on the south side of your home to capture sunlight for natural indoor lighting. A two-foot overhang and special window glazing help reduce heat buildup in the summer.
  • Insulation. We recommend airtight construction using structural insulated panels (SIPs). This system provides superior insulation (and faster installation) compared with similar wood-framed homes. With such powerful insulation, you reduce the size of the equipment needed to heat and cool your home. We also recommend sealing walls, floors, ceiling joints and openings for electrical wiring to reduce air leaks.
  • Ventilation. In a near-zero energy home, the mechanical ventilation system in the ductwork uses the heat pump’s circulating fan to ventilate the home.
  • Windows. Glass coatings, gas fills, warm edge spacers and improved framing materials work as great alternatives to simple double-pane windows. When selecting a window, consider the U-factor (how well the window resists heat flow) and the solar heat gain coefficient (how well the window blocks heat from sunlight).
  • Exterior. We recommend brick, stone and fiber cement made of cellulose, sand additives and water.
  • Siding. We recommend brick, stone and fiber cement made of cellulose, sand and water.
  • Roofing. Adding reflective paint or infrared reflecting pigments allows darker colors to reflect heat in the same way lighter colors do. With less heat absorbed into your roof and conducted into your house, you may gain up to a 30% reduction in heat gain during summer afternoons.
  • Solar panels. Solar panels provide a way for you to generate some of your own electricity. When the sun hits your solar panels, it provides electricity for immediate use. You can also save it for later use by storing it in batteries or sending it to the utility power grid. For a near-zero energy home, solar panels may produce about 20% to 30% percent of your home’s electricity.