So you're ready to build your dream home. Now comes the hard part deciding how to build it. As you look through the flashy model homes with all the upgrades and consider the builders vying for your business, there's an important question you need to ask: How energy-efficient will my home really be?

Many builders are more concerned with selling you a home than building one that will save you money and be comfortable for decades. They load the homes with eye-catching features to make the sale but don't prioritise things like insulation, sealing drafts (air-sealing) or efficient appliances that determine how much you'll spend heating and cooling the place you'll live in for years.

Building an energy-efficient home isn't just about the environment; it's about your wallet and comfort. You deserve a home built to last, not just to sell. When selecting a builder, don't just look at the curb appeal and upgrades; look at the bones of the homes and ask the hard questions about energy efficiency. Your future self will thank you.

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The Importance of Energy Efficiency in New Home Construction

Energy efficiency should be a top priority for new home builders. Constructing an energy-efficient home is not just environmentally friendly; it's morally obligatory. Here's why:

Lifetime Cost Savings

Energy-efficient homes reduce utility bills by up to 50-70% thanks to better insulation, high-performance windows, and efficient appliances and systems. These savings add up significantly over the lifetime of a home and help offset higher upfront costs. Homeowners get a solid return on investment while reducing environmental impact.

Responsibility to Future Generations

New home builders are obligated to construct sustainable and affordable homes for generations to come. Energy-efficient homes produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use less fossil fuels, reducing the effects of climate change for our children and grandchildren. Rather than creating and consuming more, we should be reducing how we consume, especially in the homes that we live in. Energy-efficient homes are also more durable, comfortable, healthy and cost-effective in the long run.

Providing Real Value to Homeowners

Unfortunately, many builders focus on constructing the cheapest homes possible to maximise short-term profits. But a "value-driven" home that looks flashy but performs poorly is not actually providing value to homeowners. Builders should construct high-quality, energy-efficient homes that save owners money over time and promote health, comfort and well-being. That is real value.

By prioritising energy efficiency, new home builders can meet their moral obligations to homeowners, the environment and future generations. Constructing sustainable, high-performance homes should not just be an option but an industry standard and a point of pride.

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How Some Builders Cut Corners and Use Inefficient Construction Methods

Some builders take shortcuts to maximise their profit margins, opting for cheap, inefficient construction methods that cost homeowners much more down the road.

Poor Insulation

Many builders skimp on insulation to cut costs, using the bare minimum required by building codes. This results in homes that leak energy through walls, ceilings, sub-floors, and more - costing owners hundreds each year in utility bills. Proper insulation, like rock wool, spray foam or dense-packed cellulose, can reduce heating/cooling needs by up to 50% and pay for itself quickly.

Inefficient Windows and Doors

Cheap, poorly installed windows and doors are another common tactic. Non-insulated or incorrectly installed units let hot/cold air escape, reducing comfort and wasting energy. Failure to use door seals allows air to escape increasing heating and cooling costs. High-performance windows, double glazed windows with insulated frames and Low-E glass make a big difference.

Poor HVAC Equipment

Some builders install undersized, low-efficiency HVAC systems to save money upfront. But these outdated units run constantly, driving up bills and shortening their lifespan. Adequately sized, high-efficiency equipment may cost more initially but provides better climate control and lasts up to twice as long. Using smaller split systems instead of ducted ones efficiently improves energy consumption by modularising living areas than sizing and using high capacity, high-consuming air conditioning units.

Lack of Smart Home Features

Many new builds lack smart home features like programmable thermostats, LED lighting, and energy monitoring systems. Smart home tech gives homeowners more control and insight into how their home uses energy. Builders should make these efficient, connected technologies standard.

By using higher-quality, energy-efficient materials and practices, builders can construct homes that save owners money for decades to come. While their profit margins may decrease slightly, their moral obligation to homeowners and the environment will be fulfilled. More builders need to recognize that cheap and fast does not always mean good and right.

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The High Energy Consumption and Ownership Costs of Poorly Built Homes

As a home builder, you are morally obligated to construct energy-efficient homes. Why? Because the houses you build today will be inhabited for decades to come, and their energy efficiency—or lack thereof—will have major financial and environmental impacts on homeowners and society as a whole.

High Energy Bills

Poorly insulated houses with inefficient HVAC systems and appliances require more energy to heat and cool, costing homeowners hundreds or even thousands more per year in utility bills. Over the lifetime of a 30-year mortgage, that can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess costs. As energy prices rise, inefficient homes become more and more expensive to operate.

Higher Carbon Footprints

Inefficient homes also consume more natural resources and produce more pollution. They require more electricity, natural gas, and oil to operate, increasing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change. The effects of climate change, like more extreme weather events, then further drive up energy demand and costs in a vicious cycle.

Lower Resale Value

Homeowners of inefficient houses often face lower resale values as buyers consider future energy costs. Energy-efficient homes, on the other hand, are more attractive to buyers and hold their value better over time. As energy codes and consumer awareness advance, inefficient homes become antiquated and less desirable.

By building cutting-edge energy efficient homes today with high-performance insulation, HVAC, appliances and renewable energy features, you can provide homeowners with substantial savings in energy bills and maintenance costs over the lifetime of the home. You can also help combat climate change by reducing pollution from residential energy usage. In the long run, focusing on energy efficiency is the morally responsible thing to do.

Higher Maintenance Costs

Poorly built homes with inadequate insulation and inefficient equipment require more frequent repairs and replacements over time. HVAC systems, water heaters and appliances wear out sooner in homes that are inefficient and difficult to heat and cool. Leaky windows, walls and attics allow moisture damage, mould growth and structural issues to develop. Properly constructed cladding systems allowing ventilation behind cladding members increase paint longevity, meaning lower repainting costs over the lifetime of the home. These ongoing maintenance costs add substantially to the total cost of ownership of an inferior home compared to an energy-efficient home built to last.

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Why Builders Have an Ethical Responsibility to Prioritize Energy Efficiency

Builders have an obligation to construct homes that are energy-efficient and affordable for owners over the lifetime of the house. When builders prioritise flashy features to sell homes quickly, the owners ultimately pay the price through high energy bills and expensive repairs for years to come.

Focusing on Short Term Profits is Short-Sighted

Builders aiming to maximise short-term profits often cut corners on insulation, seals, and other energy-efficient features. But a few extra dollars spent during construction can save owners thousands of energy costs. Builders should consider the total cost of ownership for homeowners and make energy efficiency a higher priority.

Builders have no interest in the long-term energy viability of your home. They design and select materials to ensure compliance only and never once consider the material lifetime of subsequent homeowners and how materials may perform or require maintenance over a lifetime. If you don't believe me, ask your builder this question and listen to their response. I bet you hear in the answer "value-driven" approach or "value-driven" material

Owners Deserve Homes That Last

Most people buy a house to live in for many years, not just a few. But poorly constructed homes may start leaking energy and money almost immediately. Owners deserve houses that stand the test of time, with efficient systems and high-quality materials that keep costs under control. When builders fail to deliver this, it is unfair and unjust. I have spoken to many homeowners who mentioned they just didn't know that you could add or do one thing or another. I have also talked with builders who said, "its not my job to educate homeowners." Can you see the conundrum we are in?

Sustainability Benefits Everyone

Constructing energy-efficient homes also benefits the environment by reducing pollution and conserving natural resources. As energy dependency becomes an increasing threat, all of us must do our part to build more sustainably. Home builders have the opportunity to make an enormous impact through the homes they design and build. Prioritising sustainability is a responsible and ethical choice.

In summary, home builders should make energy efficiency and affordability higher priorities out of fairness to owners, concern for the environment, and their own long-term success. An ethical builder thinks not just about closing the sale but about creating value that lasts for decades. Owners, builders, and the planet will all benefit from focusing on sustainability over flash and dazzle. The choice is clear for builders who want their legacy to be homes that stand the test of time.

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How to Identify and Select an Energy-Efficient Home Builder

When choosing a home builder, it’s important to consider their commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability. Builders have a moral obligation to construct homes that are affordable to operate for their lifetime.

Look for builders that offer above-code insulation, tight building envelopes, Energy Star-certified windows and appliances, and renewable energy options like solar panels. Look for builders who consider environmental design as part of their building process. Do they consider house orientation, house shape, sun movements during the seasons, window shading, eaves overhang, and summer and winter light penetration into the dwelling? These choices may add slightly to the upfront cost but can save thousands in utility bills over the years.

Check their certifications

Builders dedicated to energy efficiency will have certifications like Energy Star, LEED, Passive Home and Net Zero. These show they meet strict standards for insulation, air sealing, and energy use reduction.

Review their building practices

Ask about the materials and techniques they use, like:

  • Spray foam or dense-packed cellulose in walls/attic
  • Air sealing measures
  • LED lighting
  • Tankless or heat pump water heaters
  • Renewable energy options

Builders using these and the latest building science will construct an efficient, comfortable home.

Get references from past clients

Speaking with previous homeowners is one of the best ways to determine if a builder delivers an energy-efficient product. Ask about their utility bills, health/comfort, and overall satisfaction. Were there any issues with the home? How did the builder respond?

Consider resale value

An energy-efficient home will have a higher resale value. Homebuyers today want sustainable, affordable-to-operate houses. Your investment in efficiency will pay off when you sell.

Selecting an energy-focused builder may cost more upfront but will save money and the environment for the life of your home. Do your research to find a builder who shares your values of sustainability and efficiency. Your new green home will be comfortable, eco-friendly, and affordable—a win all around!


So there you have it. New home builders have a serious moral obligation to build energy-efficient homes that will save you money and reduce environmental impact over the lifetime of the house. Don't be dazzled by flashy upgrades and sleek designs meant to sell you on a poorly constructed home. Do your research and demand high-efficiency everything for your new build. Your wallet and the planet will thank you for it. And if enough people speak up and prioritise energy efficiency, builders will have no choice but to make it standard. You can drive change by choosing a builder focused on sustainable, high-performance homes. Make your voice heard, and your choice counts.