Before you start a home-building project, the building site and its climate should be carefully evaluated to determine the optimum design and orientation for the house. There are energy-related computer software programs that can help with these evaluations. The design should accommodate appropriate insulation levels, moisture dynamics, and aesthetics. Decisions regarding appropriate windows, doors, and heating, cooling and ventilating appliances are central to an efficient design. Also the cost, ease of construction, the builder’s limitations, and local building code compliance should be competently evaluated. Some plans are relatively simple and inexpensive to construct, while others can be extremely complex and, thus, expensive.
An increasing number of builders are participating in the federal government’s Building America and Energy Star® Homes programs, as well as local home energy rating programs, all of which promote the construction of energy-efficient houses. Many of these builders construct energy-efficient homes to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Construction costs can vary significantly depending on the materials, construction techniques, contractor profit margin, experience, and the type of heating, cooling, and ventilation system chosen.
Because energy-efficient homes require less money to operate, many lenders now offer energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs). EEMs typically have lower points and allow for the stretching of debt-to-income ratios. State and local government energy offices can be contacted for information on region-specific financing.
In the end, your energy-efficient house will provide you with superior comfort and lower operating costs, not to mention a higher real estate market value.