Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes

Technology has changed over the last 50 years but we’re still heating and cooling our homes and running our cars with fossil fuels. The change over to all electric homes and autos is a dream we can fulfill now with technology that exists today. Heat pump technology can now efficiently heat homes even when the temperatures are below zero and can heat our hot water more efficiently than natural gas.
Solar Ready

Why Zero Energy Ready Homes

All homes are built to CODE standards. That includes the Building code, the Plumbing code, the Electric code, the Fire code, and the Energy code. These are minimum standards for health, safety, and durability. They are updated every three years. 

Currently, Pennsylvania is building to the 2018 code. A Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) is about the same as building to the 2024 code. This house is much tighter, insulated better, has some of the most efficient appliances available and is ready for solar electric panels to be mounted on the roof.

Key Features of a Zero Energy Home

What separates any home from a Zero Energy Ready Home?

Solar Ready

The Zero Energy Ready Home certification means that the house is “ready” for solar. 

Roof: First, you need a minimum amount of roof space that isn’t shaded, or broken up by things like dormers, chimneys, or plumbing vents. 

South-East/-West Roof Faces: This house has plenty of south-east and south-west facing roof space for mounting solar electric panels. 

Conduit & Mounting Space: There’s also a conduit that runs from the attic to the electrical panel in the basement where there is amble space for mounting a PV inverter or a back-up battery. 

This house is “ready” for solar.

Solar Ready

Continuous Insulation

Most houses have only cavity insulation. This is insulation between the wall studs or between the attic joists. This insulation is great when installed well, but it doesn’t stop heat loss or gain through the framing. 

ZERH houses have ZipR insulated sheathing (Green) around the entire home. It provides continuous insulation covering all the wood framing. 

The green color is the product’s water-resistant  layer. 

Taping all the seams creates a relatively air-tight shell before any of the interior sealing is done.

Continuous Insulation

Advanced Framing

Looking around the house now, all you see is walls, windows, doors, and trim work. Behind the sheetrock, there is a world of details that you’ll never see – a world of high-performance framing. Better framing creates more room for insulation.

This includes raising the roof 10” above the outside walls. The space between rafters is covered with attic baffles that are foamed in place so that outside air moves over the insulation, not through the insulation.

Advanced Framing

Better Windows

.25 U value (R4) windows are a 25% step up from the regular contractor grade windows and provide much greater comfort. All window and door frames are air sealed, and the sheetrock is made airtight by using a liquid gasket applied to the framing.

Windows R4


The Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) brings fresh air into the house and exhausts all the stale and polluted air you don’t want. This is very important for very tight homes. It’s all about controlling the movement of air, heat, and moisture.


Heat Pump

The high-efficient heat pump provides year-round comfort, even in the coldest winters. Heat pump technology has come a long way in the last 20 years.

Heat Pump

Heat Pump Water Heater

The high-efficient heat pump provides year-round comfort, even in the coldest winters. Heat pump technology has come a long way in the last 20 years.

Heat Pump Water Heater

McNaughton Zero Energy Ready Homes

Home in Mechanicsburg PA



2-story, 4-bedrooms, 2.5 baths, Full basement

HERS Score


Average Monthly Bill*


1st Year Savings*


*Estimated bill & savings based on expected appliance usage in energy-efficient model home. PPL Electric Utilities & their partnering suppliers make no guarantee of usage costs or savings and are not responsible for any variation of actual usage, costs or savings from the estimate.

Energy Contractors

Energy Rater

TopBuild Home Services


Central Penn Plumbing Service, Inc


American Hungerford Building Products