How to turn your house into an energy-efficient home

How to turn your house into an energy-efficient home

Whether you’re upgrading or building, your home can be more efficient.

How to make your home more energy efficient: key tips to remember

  • Get an energy evaluation or audit
  • Make sure your HVAC unit is regularly cleaned and serviced
  • Seal your windows, doors and ducts
  • Choose Energy Star appliances
  • Consider renewables and recyclables

Before you type “how to make home energy efficient” or “how to make home more energy efficient” into your browser, congratulate yourself for having already found what you need and spend a few minutes reading this post! If you’re interested in more sustainable living, lessening your impact on the environment, living a healthier, more cost-effective lifestyle and lowering your carbon footprint, it all comes down to learning how to make your home more energy efficient. Would you like to save money by using less energy, increase the resale value of your house, lower your cost of living, and retain comfort and safety while being kinder to the planet? Here are our ideas to help you achieve energy efficiency at home all year long.


You can assume that around half (or more) of your home’s total energy consumption is attributable to your HVAC unit. Therefore, ensuring your system is efficient and installed correctly is very important for your overall energy footprint. You’ve probably noticed a jump in your utility bills at the height of winter when you use the most heat. Bills also peak amid the hottest months of summer, when your HVAC system works overtime, and an energy-efficient air conditioner is essential. In both cases, ensuring your system  works efficiently with regular cleaning and servicing is your first vital step toward achieving energy efficiency at home.


When aiming for optimal energy efficiency, another huge consideration is insulation, which can even impact the size of the HVAC unit your home will require. Thinking of these two key factors in tandem, especially if you’re building a new home, will work to your advantage. Most buyers today want a new home that exceeds the minimum requirements and is even better insulated, resulting in higher efficiency ratings. One way to accomplish this is by installing continuous insulation, which straddles structures without thermal bridges, meaning it has less opportunity for leaks and can lead to significant energy savings for your home.

Water heaters

It may surprise you to learn that your home’s water heater is responsible for up to 20% of your home’s energy consumption, second only to your HVAC unit. Older models heat and store water in large quantities; often, all that water isn’t even used. Tankless water heaters are an on-demand design, meaning water is only heated when you need it. They take up a lot less space, use a lot less energy and can significantly increase your home’s efficiency; although, they are more expensive upfront.


One easy way to save energy throughout your home is to use LED lightbulbs, which last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs while using only 20% of the energy. When a bulb in your home goes out, get into the habit of replacing it with an LED bulb. They are a little more expensive upfront, but they pay for themselves many times over with their efficiency and longevity. These days, they’re available in just about any shape or size and in colors. To save even more energy, consider putting some of your lights on timers.

Smart appliances

Today, many energy-efficient appliances are also smart appliances, which can help automate your life while reducing energy expenditures. For instance, you can easily program a smart thermostat to adapt to your heating and cooling routines, allowing you to adjust your home’s HVAC system from a smartphone app and increase energy efficiency. A smart home today can involve everything from smart lighting to smart appliances, electronics, alarms and more. While you’re here, read more about whether smart appliances are the right choice for you.

Windows, doors and orientation

You lose up to 30% of your home’s energy through windows. Make sure they’re not single pane. Double- and triple-pane windows offer better resistance to cold and heat transfer than their single-pane counterparts. Doors should fit well, and you can minimize any air leaks around them with weatherstripping. Building a new home? Passive solar design orients a home on-site to take optimal advantage of solar energy. Rooms facing north and east tend to be cooler, so they’re better for kitchens. Rooms facing south and west get more direct sunlight, resulting in warmer interior temperatures and perhaps more need for blinds or drapes.

Airflow and moisture

Typical areas to watch for and prevent leakage with weatherstripping include around windows and doors, HVAC ducts, attic doors, pipe penetrations in walls, and outlet boxes on the exterior of your home. Modern homes incorporate energy-recovery ventilation systems that condition fresh air and circulate it, removing potentially damaging moisture from the air. Moisture barriers can help prevent the accumulation of damp air in the walls, impeding mold growth.


The more sunlight your roof can reflect, the less heat it absorbs, so lighter colors are better for roofing materials. A cooler roof makes your HVAC system’s work considerably easier, lowering your energy bill, extending your roof’s life and making your indoors more comfortable. Tile, clay and slate are good roofing choices with reflective capabilities. If you have a flat roof, go green! It’s a great spot with excellent access to sunlight and rain, perfect for growing different plants and vegetables (with no uninvited groundhogs or rabbits).


Alternative energy sources like solar and wind, while slow to catch on in residential areas, can lower your energy costs and increase the value of your home. Solar panels, windmills or even hybrid systems that take advantage of both are available. Determined to live off-grid, some homeowners lower their energy bills by prioritizing these renewable energy sources, even using micro hydropower systems. As a first step, investigate what’s legal for use within your community.

Energy Star

Most new-home buyers will want their appliances to be Energy Star certified by the EPA, meaning they are energy efficient without demonstrating a reduction in performance. Aside from your HVAC system, appliances with a great demand for energy, like refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers and ovens, will make the most significant impact on your energy bill, so you want to be sure that each is Energy Star certified. These days, even homes themselves can be Energy Star certified. These homes are built with energy efficiency as a priority from the outset and are typically about 20% more efficient than the average new home. Read more here about the benefits of Energy Star appliances.

Building materials

Sustainable building materials typically last longer, require less frequent maintenance or replacement, and lower your carbon footprint. They usually consist of at least 40% recycled material and are great choices for added efficiencies in your home’s insulation and foundation. High thermal mass materials are excellent at absorbing and retaining heat energy, which slows down temperature changes and gives your HVAC unit a break. Other environmentally friendly building materials include recycled steel, vacuum-insulated panels and wood alternatives.

Home Energy Score

Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Home Energy Score evaluates a home’s heating, cooling and water-heating systems and structure into a score reflecting its overall efficiency, accompanied by recommendations on how it could improve. Before making significant changes in your existing home or finalizing your plans for a new build, have an audit performed by an energy auditor and review all your potential improvements here. Your score, should you plan to build a new home or remodel an existing one, is based on a “whole systems approach” that includes: 

  • Occupant behavior
  • Site conditions
  • Climate
  • Appliances and electronics
  • Insulation and air sealing
  • Lighting, heating and cooling
  • Water heating
  • Windows, doors and skylights

Thanks for reading our post on how to make your home energy efficient. We hope it was helpful. If you’re in the mood, read more of our details on how to cut energy costs at home.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.

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