Efficient Home Design (2024)

Before you design a new home or remodel an existing one, consider investing in energy efficiency. You'll save energy and money, and your home will be more comfortable and durable. The planning process is also a good time to look into a renewable energy system that can provide electricity, water heating, or space heating and cooling. You may also want to explore your options for financing an energy-efficient home.

In an existing house, the first step is to conduct a home energy assessment (sometimes referred to as an energy audit) to find out how your home uses energy and determine the best ways to cut energy use and costs. To learn more about home energy assessments and find free tools and calculators, go to Your Home's Energy Use, the Residential Services Network, and the Building Performance Institute.

If you plan to design and build a new home or do an extensive remodel on an existing house, optimizing home energy efficiency requires a whole-house systems approach to ensure that you and your team of building professionals consider all the variables, details, and interactions that affect energy use in your home. In addition to how you use energy, the conditions of where your home is situated, and the local climate, these include:

  • Appliances and home electronics
  • Insulation and air sealing
  • Lighting and daylighting
  • Space heating and cooling
  • Water heating
  • Windows, doors, and skylights.

Before making upgrades, you may also want to work with an energy assessor to use the Home Energy Score.The Home Energy Score is a national rating system, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, which provides a rating of your home's current efficiency, as well as a list of improvements and potential savings.The Score reflects the energy efficiency of a home based on the home's structure and heating, cooling, and hot water systems. The Home Facts provide details about the current structure and systems. Recommendations show how to improve the energy efficiency of the home to achieve a higher score and save money.

Efficient Home Design (1)

Ultra-Efficient Homes

Ultra-efficient homes combine state-of-the-art energy-efficient construction, appliances, and lighting with commercially available renewable energy systems, such as solar water heating and solar electricity. By taking advantage of local climate and site conditions, designers can often also incorporate passive solar heating and cooling and energy-efficient landscaping strategies. The intent is to reduce home energy use as cost-effectively as possible, and then meet the reduced load with on-site renewable energy systems.

Advanced House Framing

If you’re building a new house or adding on to an existing one, consider using advanced house framing (also known as optimum value engineering), which reduces lumber use and waste and improves energy efficiency in a wood-framed house.

Cool Roofs

Cool roofs use highly reflective materials to reflect more light and absorb less heat from sunlight, which keeps homes cooler during hot weather.

Passive Solar Home Design

Passive solar home design takes advantage of climatic and site conditions to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

Earth-Sheltered, Straw Bale, Log, and Manufactured Homes

If you live in or are planning to buy an earth-sheltered, straw bale, log, or manufactured home, below is more information and links with suggestions to help improve your home’s energy efficiency:

Efficient Earth-Sheltered Homes

Earth-sheltered homes can be built underground or bermed, and—when well designed and built—can be comfortable, durable, and energy-efficient.

Straw Bale Home Design

Straw bale buildings were fairly common in the United States between 1895 and 1940, but it wasn't until the mid- to late-1990s that building codes began to acknowledge them as a viable approach. Two current straw bale construction methods include non-load-bearing or post-and-beam, which uses a structural framework with straw bale in-fill, and load-bearing or "Nebraska style," which uses the bearing capacity of the stacked bales to support roof loads.

Proposed straw bale structures face considerable barriers, including:

  • Local building code approvals
  • Building loans
  • Mortgages
  • Homeowner's insurance
  • Community acceptance.

To learn about the building code standards for your state, contact your city or county building code officials. Your state energy office may be able to provide information on energy codes recommended or enforced in your state.

Energy Efficiency in Log Homes

Log homes use solid wood logs for wall structure and insulation, and require care in design, construction, and maintenance to achieve and maintain energy efficiency.

Efficient Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes (formerly known as mobile homes) are built to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Code, and are constructed on a permanent chassis so they can be moved. Owners can improve the energy efficiency of these homes by caulking and weather stripping, air sealing, and choosing energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

Efficient Home Design (2024)


What's the most efficient house design? ›

Like geodesic dome homes, tiny homes are more energy efficient than other builds because they have less surface area. However, tiny homes are more efficient because they are smaller overall while geodesic dome houses are efficient because of their particular shape.

How to build a high efficiency home? ›

Extremely Energy Efficient Homes
  1. Start with Smart Design. ...
  2. Use the Sun for Solar Tempering. ...
  3. Optimize with Energy Modeling. ...
  4. Super-Seal the Building Envelope. ...
  5. Super-Insulate the Building Envelope. ...
  6. Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors. ...
  7. Create an Energy Efficient, Fresh Air Supply.

How do you make your house more efficient? ›

We've pulled together 6 energy efficient house tips that can help you cut your energy bill.
  1. Energy efficient lights. ...
  2. Insulate ceilings, walls and floors. ...
  3. Reduce the temperature on your thermostat. ...
  4. Install an energy efficient hot water system. ...
  5. Install a Standby Power Controller (SPC) ...
  6. Operating costs of electrical appliances.

What is an efficient home? ›

WHAT IS AN EFFICIENT HOUSE. An efficient home is one that reduces unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and the demand for non-renewable resources. At the same time, it provides more sustainable living conditions and saves significant sums of money.

What is the least desirable style house? ›

Preferences in house style can differ significantly across the country. The study provides a further breakdown of the most popular home styles in the largest U.S. cities. Meanwhile, the least desired home styles appear to be shipping container homes and tiny homes, the study finds.

What is the perfect home layout? ›

Ideally, to provide the best layout for your family, there should be one bathroom for every two bedrooms in the house. Homeowners who entertain frequently should choose a house layout that has a full or a half-guest bathroom near the living area. The guest bathroom should be downstairs in homes with multiple floors.

What type of house is the most energy efficient? ›

When it comes to the most efficient building shape, uncomplicated dome and cube structures retain the most heat. This is because the air can circulate more efficiently around a dome whilst a cube has the smallest surface area to floor area ratio, so it loses minimal amounts of heat.

What is the most energy efficient foundation? ›

Somehow you forgot to mention the most energy efficient foundation type available, ICFs Insulated Concrete Forms. An ICF Basem*nt can save between 20% & 30% of a homes Heating & Cooling Energy & Costs.

What is the most efficient form of housing? ›

Professionally built tiny homes are using the best insulation and the best appliances to create the most efficient form of housing to date. This means very low cost for the consumer when paying those summer or winter utility bills,” says Mosley.

What is a low cost way to make your home more energy efficient? ›

Sealing cracks, gaps, and leaks and adding insulation can save up to 10% on home heating and cooling costs. Clean or replace all filters in your home regularly. Dirty filters make your system work harder and run longer than necessary. Use your microwave instead of your stove when cooking.

How do you increase the value of a house? ›

How to Increase Your Home Value this Year
  1. Adding More Space or an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Making your home feel bigger will increase your home value. ...
  2. Adding Beauty Inside & Curb Appeal Outside. ...
  3. Adding Smart Tech to Your Home. ...
  4. Adding Energy Efficiency Upgrades & Solar Panels. ...
  5. Adding Updated Systems and Appliances.

What is the most efficient home layout? ›

The square is by far the most efficient and cost effective use of space. First of all, we live in a world where furniture and building materials are cut with 90 degree angles. Any room with corners that aren't at 90 degrees are not accommodating.

How to build a house efficiently? ›

Cheapest Ways To Build A House: 10 Tips For Affordable Home Building
  1. Simplify Your Home's Design. ...
  2. Try A Tiny Home. ...
  3. Hire An Experienced Home Builder. ...
  4. Save Costs By Becoming A General Contractor. ...
  5. Get Your Design Plans Approved. ...
  6. Budget, Plan And Price Out All Items. ...
  7. Choose Building Materials Wisely. ...
  8. Buy Materials At A Discount.

Which HVAC system is the most energy efficient? ›

What is the most energy efficient HVAC system? The most energy efficient HVAC system is likely the ductless mini split heat pump. Another answer would be: the system with the highest efficiency rating.

What is the strongest house design? ›

Architecturally speaking, triangles are the strongest house shape. Think of some of the world's most famous architectural marvels: the Louvre Pyramid, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Eiffel Tower.

What is the best house design for a hot climate? ›

Compact house forms, rather than sprawling, multi-wing designs work best in hot locales. Home designs with shaded porches, wrap around porches or plans with courtyards that create a shaded open area within the building are ideal.

Which house design is best? ›

Some of the most popular house styles are:
  • Craftsman style houses.
  • Victorian-style houses.
  • Mediterranean style houses.
  • Modern and contemporary style houses etc.


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