You may have heard much about the concept of net zero homes, as there has been many discussions lately about net zero energy (NZE) houses in mobile home industry. The idea of NZE is to offset the amount of energy that the home uses. However, it will be practically impossible to have a home that is capable of replacing all the energy that is used in a home. Therefore the equations of net zero energy are based on maximum conservation of energy, meaning that the mobile home should be very well insulated and the things that use power should be energy efficient.
In the case of net zero energy mobile homes, the energy is harnessed mainly from the sun. Sunlight can be used to produce electricity, warm the air inside the home, and to heat water. There are also other renewable sources of energy that can be used to power mobile homes, which include wind, water, and geothermal energy.
While designing a NZE mobile home, orienting the home to have maximum exposure to sunlight is very important. If the home is located in colder climates, more emphasis will be given to preserve the heat inside the home. For this, the long axis of the mobile home will be facing the sun, and in hot climates, it will be the other way around.
Roof is also important for NZE mobile homes, as it will have to accommodate photovoltaic solar panels and thermal panels. The solar thermal panels can be used to heat water without wasting electricity. Other design elements that affect the efficiency of net zero energy mobile homes are the size and number of windows and roof overhang.
Overhangs in NZE homes should protect the window from summer heat, but should not block much sun inn winter. Mobile homes situated in cooler areas should have about half the window area on the south side of the home. This will allow more sunlight to enter the home in winter without losing much heat from the other sides.
Another important factor for the net zero energy mobile homes is the insulation. Good insulation will help to decrease heat loss in winter and it should be added to the top, bottom, and the sides of the mobile home. If the house has an attic, it should be vented properly as it can help keep the home cool in summer and avoid issues from moisture accumulation.