Decoding Energy Efficiency Lingo

The terminology for energy-efficient homes can be very technical and confusing to home owners. Here are some simple definitions to help you understand popular energy-saving options for your home.

Home with blueprints

Energy-Efficient Home

A home that uses less energy than a traditional home without compromising service to owners and occupants.

Energy efficiency can be achieved through things such as improved thermal envelopes, solar-oriented construction, low-e windows and efficient appliances. Note that energy efficiency and energy conservation are different in that conservation efforts reduce or eliminate services to save energy.

Learn how efficient your home is now and ways to improve your home's efficiency with ENERGY STAR's Home Energy Yardstick.


Net Zero-Energy Home

A home in which energy production and consumption are equivalent.

That means the energy produced by the home must meet the household's needs. Rooftop solar panels are perhaps the most common way for homes to produce energy. To help achieve net-zero energy, the home should be designed using a holistic, whole-house approach that strives for efficiency and reduces energy consumption without sacrificing service or comfort.

To see examples of zero-energy homes, take a look at Kaupuni Village in Hawaii.


Net Zero-Energy-Ready Home

A home that is outfitted with the necessary structural and technological support to install energy-producing technologies.

Net zero energy-ready homes are appropriate for home owners who plan to install energy-producing technology in the future but do not have the means or desire to do so at the current time. When the home owner is ready to install such technology, it will be a much simpler process. 


Net Positive-Energy Home 

A home that produces more energy than the household needs. 

A home owner could receive credit from their utility company for the excess energy returned to the grid that is produced by the energy technologies and saved by energy-efficiency measures.

Check out this net positive-energy home in San Marcos, Calif.