Can You Buy Net Zero Prefab Homes?

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It is entirely possible to buy net zero prefab homes, but there are a few things you should know and look at before any purchase.

Net zero prefab homes, including cabins, tiny houses and panel-built houses are the way of the future. People want comfort, sustainability and a reduction in the cost of their build and the bills that they pay at the end of the month. Net zero prefab homes allow for this.

Prefab homes meet many of the requirements that make a net zero home. With the installation of sustainable technologies such as solar panels, low-energy light bulbs, heat pumps and with custom manufacturer designs your prefab home can be entirely net zero.

What makes a net zero building

A net zero modular home, often referred to as a prefab home, produces at least the same amount of energy as it uses. It is a sustainable home that requires little to no power from the grid and can be completely independent.

With improvements in solar panel technology, heat pump systems and the overall popularity of sustainability, more buildings are becoming or aim to become net zero.

Net zero prefab homes are just one of the primary examples of how net zero builds can be achieved.

To be considered a net zero prefab home, several criteria should be met. This is not a definitive guide but shows how prefab homes can be considered net zero.

  • To achieve net zero status in the UK the amount of carbon dioxide emission added to the atmosphere must be equal to or less more than what is taken away. [1]
  • High-efficiency HVAC systems keep energy levels down. The use of energy-saving light bulbs, insulated panels and other energy-efficient sources can help your home be net zero.
  • To ensure your home is net zero, you should also consider your home’s energy usage. This will help you reduce your home’s environmental impact.

Many net zero prefab homes and manufacturers meet these requirements.

Forward-thinking innovative technology also assists in creating a net zero home. This renewable technology includes:

  • Heat pumps which produce efficient air source heat
  • Heat pumps for heating water
  • Solar panels to make your average roof a green roof
  • Ground source heat pumps if available

Quality buildings such as well-manufactured prefab homes will use the space on your roof, walls and floor to create renewable energy that makes your home net zero. This technology will also reduce your energy bills in the long term adding to your savings.

Are prefab homes actually cheaper?

Image courtesy of Ilum House: Model Lund

It is very possible to find prefab homes under 200k, 150k and even as low as 50k.

These prices are typically for the build alone, you will have to factor in the location, size and design of your prefab home.
In comparison to traditional builds and the path to net zero that you may be considering, prefab homes are much cheaper than traditional builds.

Retrofitting a traditional home to make it net zero will cost far more than it would with a prefab home.

Most prefab manufacturers are developing their homes, with the environment and economic savings in mind. These savings are then passed on to you.

For example, the UK produced 43.9 million tonnes of commercial waste in 2018. Factory-produced homes greatly reduce this waste. [2]

A prefab home will produce far less waste than a traditional home, they are built with insulation and heat retention in mind, and they are produced at a quicker rate than traditional homes.

This cost-effective approach by manufacturers saves energy and time. Meaning your home is already on track to reduce your impact on the environment while saving you money.

Depending on your design plans, your prefab home can come with pre-installed renewable energy components, as mentioned above such as solar panels, and heat pumps.

Another thing that makes prefab homes cheaper is the size aspect. Tiny homes, cabins and panel built homes, whichever you choose, are designed for energy saving, utility and comfort.

For all the benefits a prefab home provides in energy saving, insulation and a path to net zero, they can be much cheaper than a traditional home.

Why is prefab cheaper than building?

Many sections of your prefab home are pre-built in environmentally controlled factories and warehouses. The build is not affected by weather and each section is built within a particular time frame, decreasing time spent building and minimising waste.

  • Each component is planned and designed ahead of time. This ensures better insulation, and that each utility aspect complements the other.
  • Prefab construction allows for creativity and customization and with pre-planning, the material required is arranged and ready to go. Greatly minimising cost and waste.
  • Prefab homes are often smaller in size than traditional homes and are therefore less costly to construct.
  • Newly built prefab homes are built with longevity in mind. They have better insulation, meet updated environmental requirements and depending on the manufacturer will have efficiency as their core component. This will save you on costs in the long term.

While added features such as solar panels and heat pumps may make additional costs, they are still far more affordable than retrofitting traditional homes and installing new renewable technology.

What is the difference between passive house and net zero

The primary difference between a passive house and a net zero house is the stringent guidelines for insulation, air sealing and the use of passive solar systems to develop a passive home. [3]

A passive home may use the orientation of the home towards the sun and wind to regulate temperature and air quality in the home. This helps reduce the need for solar panels and other renewable technology.

Net zero homes are less stringent and may use more forward-thinking technology to achieve net zero status.

Prefabricated homes with their quality manufacturing, environmentally controlled building environment and pre-designed plans are well on the way to net-zero home status.

You can plan and design your, prefabricated home with net zero status in mind or retrofit your existing prefab home to achieve net zero status.

Long-term cost savings far outweigh initial costs on the path to net zero status and the use of renewable technology.

Reference
[1]Office Of National Statistics
[2]Gov.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-waste-data/uk-statistics-on-waste
[3]Zero Energy Project: https://zeroenergyproject.org/2022/01/14/net-zero-vs-passive-house-what-are-the-similarities-and-differences/

Featured image: Keu model by Keu Mobile Home

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