For what he says was just 10 to 15 per cent more than a traditional home upfront, Valdrin Jashari built his family their net-zero dream home in Lethbridge — one he says will pay itself off in the long run.
While homes like his — with no furnace or gas to power it — have a positive impact on the environment, Jashari said it was the lack of bills in the future that drew him to the idea of a net-zero home.
“I do love helping the environment, and it’s a great thing to do, but I wanted to do something that made sense economically… That’s what appealed to me the most,” he said.
“With everything rising, the costs, and the heating bills and electricity and everything, that was important to me: to save money in the long run.”
Jashari and his family will now live in the net-zero home — a reward after years of hard work.
For the past decade, Jashari has been working in roofing as the owner of Integrity Roofing in Lethbridge but he has now discovered a new passion.
“Being in the roofing industry, it was kind of hard to really differentiate myself, so I thought about getting into building homes,” he said.
“I can show my creativity, and show the customers something unique, something that will be better.”
After a year of researching and a year of construction, Jashari’s home is up and running, powered by 35 solar panels and a 12-kilowatt array.
By using solar power, Jashari is taking advantage of a renewable energy source that some believe is underused in southern Alberta.
“Lethbridge is actually one of the sunniest spots in Canada,” said University of Lethbridge professor James Byrne.
“Lethbridge has more hours of clear sunshine than just about anywhere in Canada, so this is a great place to install solar.”
With the front of Jashari’s south-facing house covered almost entirely by solar panels, as well as several on the roof, he said the home is well-equipped to soak up rays year-round.
A connection to the grid also means that his house can take electricity when it needs to during darker times of the year while generating more and building credit in the summertime.
Jashari said he designed the five-bedroom house in a way that ensured each detail had a calculated purpose.
“I’m a big believer in form follows function, so I wanted to create everything, every space in the house, to have a reason to be there,” he said.
Decisions in the design process have also resulted in what Jashari calls a healthier home.
“What makes it healthier is we have an HRV — a heat recovery ventilator — and this is very important in a net-zero home because it circulates the air and gets rid of humidity,” he said.
“Every hour about one-third of the air gets recirculated, so it’s healthier to sleep at night and to get rid of germs.”
Byrne believes Jashari is on the right track, echoing that using renewable energy sources is healthier for citizens in general. He believes a revolution is quickly coming in the housing industry.
“I think where we are going to be going is seeing whole neighborhoods that will retrofit and get away from using old energy sources. Natural gas is not a friendly fuel,” he said.
Jashari plans to build more homes like his but said his first net-zero home is an extra special one for his family.
“We love it so much. It’s kind of our dream home… for now,” he said.