Why You Should Build an Energy-Efficient Home

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

Choosing your new home at the blueprint stage gives you the power to make decisions that lower environmental impact and save money for the long term. With so many reasons to commit to building green, you’d be remiss not to have energy efficiency on your must-have list! Here’s why energy-efficient house plans make such great homes, no matter your needs or location.

House Plan 6077

House Plan 6077 offers 2,754 square feet, four bedrooms, and three full baths between the main level and the finished basement. With 2x6 exterior framing, it’s designed with efficiency in mind standard, but you can also select the ENERGY STAR® Plan Package to get specific instructions to build it efficiently in your area.

Functional Floor Plans

Don’t think you have to trade anything to be more energy conscious when it comes to building! You’ll find homes of all sizes and styles, with all sorts of features to suit every type of customer. Often, people assume they must give things up to live more eco-friendly lives; while this is true in many areas, it’s not necessarily for homes. Architects and designers understand that most of us can’t downsize to the extreme and that we still count some features—like a spacious master suite or kitchen—as essentials. Energy-efficient homes are designed for more insulation and more resourceful use of windows, pipes, etc., so they’re not any less!

The most efficiently designed homes also capitalize on the environment with their floor plans alone. This can be done in different ways to adapt to different environments, but the gist lies in controlling passive solar heat gain. For example, homes in colder northern areas should be oriented with most of their windows pointing south, so they can take in the sun’s heat during the winter. On the other hand, homes in hot southern places typically have overhangs to shade windows and prevent that extra heat from coming inside. If you’d like a home that addresses your environmental needs, be sure to bring it up with your builder so you can select the best blueprints for your conditions and your exact lot.

House Plan 7575

Looking for a modern farmhouse on the smaller side, but that lives large? House Plan 7575 is here for you! As one of our Customer Preferred House Plans, it also includes the architect’s preferred products, many of which are ENERGY STAR® certified.

Savings on Utilities

You’ve probably seen ENERGY STAR® labels tacked on various products, but did you know you can also purchase ENERGY STAR® Approved house plans? The Environmental Protection Agency, more commonly referred to as the EPA, created this designation to help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing across a variety of product categories. While the exact criteria differ by the product, you can expect to save money on energy costs, compared to similar, non-certified models. The ENERGY STAR® plan packages available from Direct from the Designers come with the information you need to construct the home to save 20-30% on energy each year—and that’ll really add up!

We have a collection of ENERGY STAR® Approved and Green House Plans, all of which include this package under the Additional Plan Options section. The extra cost—around $200-300 for the average house—is usually more than recouped in the finished home’s first year. When you purchase this option, we’ll provide the information necessary to build the home to save money in your location, as requirements vary across climate zones. The plans will outline the construction details necessary to achieve the 20-30% in energy savings, including those for a tighter building envelope and ductwork, proper insulation, heating and cooling systems, and finishing products—windows, doors, appliances, etc. If you find a home you love but it doesn’t include this package, let us know so we can customize the plan for you!

House Plan 2427

Like all of our qualified designs, if you build House Plan 2427 to meet ENERGY STAR® criteria, you could be in for savings! Various state and federal programs offer homeowners special breaks if they build new energy-efficient homes, or if they update an existing house with more efficient products.

Rebates & Tax Benefits

Building sustainably can surprise you with its price tag, but it often comes with rewards to offset the greater cost up front and sweeten the deal even more. As you shop for finishes, many will advertise mail-in rebates and tax benefits, so be sure to factor these into the price. Save receipts and certification statements from manufacturers so you can include them on your taxes; due to changing tax codes, we recommend consulting with an accountant to figure out how much you’ll save, especially if you’re relying on tax benefits to make your budget work. To easily search for products and rebate offers, use the Building Products page on the ENERGY STAR® site. You’ll find all sorts of information on how certified products compare to non-certified ones in terms of carbon emissions to get a better idea of the positive impact you’ll make, too!

Of course, all the practical benefits of green building are attractive, but nothing compares to improving our planet by reducing energy dependence. Help make the world a better place for yourself and future generations with your decisions today! Direct from the Designers is happy to help with our collection of energy-efficient homes, so please give them your consideration and don’t forget that we can always modify any plan to be more efficient.

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