energy efficient home design


10 Steps to a More Energy-Efficient Home

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10 Steps to a More Energy-Efficient Home

Part 1: Grasping and Applying Energy Efficiency


Energy efficiency is the concept of accomplishing the same tasks with less energy, thereby minimizing energy wastage. This practice is a crucial component of sustainability and environmental preservation. The significance of energy efficiency extends beyond just reducing your utility bills. It also aids in creating a healthier and more sustainable environment by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Conducting a Home Energy Assessment

A Home Energy Assessment is a procedure where you analyze your home's energy consumption to identify areas where energy is being wasted and can be conserved. It's a critical step towards enhancing the energy efficiency of an existing home. You can perform a basic home energy assessment yourself by checking for drafts, inspecting insulation, and examining your heating and cooling systems. For a more comprehensive assessment, consider hiring a professional energy auditor. Here's a guide on how to conduct a home energy audit.

When building a new home, incorporating the principles of a Home Energy Assessment into the planning and construction process is crucial. This approach allows you to design and build a home that is energy-efficient from the outset, rather than trying to retrofit energy efficiency measures into an existing structure, which are often more costly after a home is built. In the context of new home construction, a Home Energy Assessment can be thought of as a set of guidelines that inform the design and building process. These guidelines can help identify the most effective ways to conserve energy in the home, such as installing optimal insulation and air sealing, choosing windows and doors with excellent U-value and SHGC ratings, and incorporating heating and cooling systems with high efficiency ratings.

Implementing a Whole-House Systems Approach

The Whole-House Systems Approach views the house as an interconnected energy system. Each part impacts the performance of the entire system. This approach ensures that enhancements in one part of the system won't be negated by weaknesses in another part. Factors to consider in this approach include:

  • Appliances
  • Insulation
  • Air sealing
  • Lighting
  • Space heating and cooling
  • Water heating
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

Energy-Efficient Home Design

Energy-efficient home design is a strategy that employs architectural planning and building materials to decrease energy consumption and increase the efficiency of a home. Some tips for energy-efficient home design include:

  • Advanced house framing, which reduces lumber use and waste
  • Cool roofs, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat
  • Progressive insulation and air sealing measures coupled with highly efficient HVAC systems
  • Passive solar home design, which leverages the local climate to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home

Energy Efficiency in Different Types of Homes

Different types of homes have unique considerations when it comes to energy efficiency. Here are some examples of building styles that extend beyond the traditional wood (stick built) homes we are all familiar with:

  • Earth-sheltered homes are built into the earth, which provides natural insulation and reduces the need for heating and cooling.
  • Straw bale homes use straw bales for insulation. This is a renewable resource and provides excellent insulation.
  • Log homes have natural insulation properties due to the thermal mass of the logs. They work well in environments with greater day to night temperature swings.
  • Manufactured homes can be designed from the outset with energy efficiency in mind, using modern construction techniques and materials in a very controlled construction environment.

In each case, understanding the specific characteristics of these types of homes can help you make them more energy efficient.

Part 2: Handy Strategies for Energy Efficiency

Practical Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners

There are several practical measures you can take to enhance your home's energy efficiency:

  • Lowering the thermostat: Even a minor adjustment can result in significant energy savings.
  • Sealing all windows: This prevents drafts and heat loss, making your home more comfortable and energy-efficient.
  • Limiting space heater use: Space heaters can consume a lot of energy. Use them sparingly and only when necessary.
  • Replacing incandescent bulbs: LED bulbs are now widely available and the price has come way down. They use a fraction of the energy and last much longer.

Energy Efficiency in Appliances and Electronics

When it comes to appliances and electronics, energy efficiency is key. Consider the following:

  • Choosing energy-efficient appliances: Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, which signifies they meet certain energy efficiency criteria. For a great guide in choosing energy-efficient appliances, check out:
  • Unplugging electronic devices:  Electronics can draw "phantom" power even when they're not plugged in.  Unplug them when they're not in use for long periods.

Energy Efficiency in Lighting

Lighting is another area where you can make energy-efficient choices:

  • Choosing energy-efficient lighting options: Again, LED and compact fluorescent bulbs are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs.
  • Maximizing natural light: Use natural light whenever possible to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Energy Efficiency in Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling are often the biggest energy users in a home. Here's how to make them more efficient:

  • Choosing energy-efficient heating and cooling systems: Look for systems with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) or Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). When designing for a new home, it is also crucial that your HVAC contractor uses Manual J to properly size your HVAC equipment. When homes are insulated and air sealed to higher standards, the tonnage size of your HVAC equipment often needs to be reduced to a smaller size. This reduces the upfront cost and also aids in proper management of humidity levels inside the home.
  • Managing heating and cooling effectively: Use programmable thermostats to manage your heating and cooling, and consider zoning systems to heat or cool only the areas of your home that need it.

Energy Efficiency in Water Heating

Finally, water heating can also be made more energy efficient:

  • Choosing energy-efficient water heaters: Look for water heaters with a high Energy Factor (EF).
  • Managing water heating effectively: Lower the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater and pipes, and use less hot water when possible.


Incorporating energy efficiency into your home is not only beneficial for the environment but also for your wallet. From understanding the concept of energy efficiency to conducting a home energy assessment, implementing a whole-house systems approach, and designing your home with energy efficiency in mind, you can significantly reduce your home's energy consumption. Practical measures such as lowering the thermostat, sealing windows, limiting space heater use, replacing incandescent bulbs, and unplugging unused appliances can make a significant difference in your home's energy use. Choosing energy-efficient appliances and lighting, as well as managing energy use in electronics, heating and cooling, and water heating, can further enhance your home's energy efficiency.

One innovative solution that can greatly contribute to a home's energy efficiency is the use of AeroBarrier. AeroBarrier is an air sealing technology that can seal gaps and holes in the building envelope, reducing air leakage and improving energy efficiency. By creating a tighter building envelope, AeroBarrier can help reduce energy costs, improve indoor air quality, and create a more comfortable living environment. For more information on this technology, check out our Comprehensive Guide to its Applications and Benefits.

In conclusion, making your home more energy efficient is a multifaceted approach that involves understanding, planning, and implementing various strategies. With the right knowledge and tools, you can create a home that is comfortable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly.

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