If you are building a new house or a major addition, do it right the first time, saving money and the environment for decades to come. Today’s state-of-the-art energy-efficient houses typically require less than a quarter as much energy for heating and cooling as most existing houses. There are thousands of homes in the northern United States and Canada with yearly energy bills that total just $200 to $300.
These homes cost more to build than a standard house, but not that much more. You might spend an extra $5,000–$10,000 to build a super-efficient house with R-30 walls, R-38 ceilings, R-19 foundations, R-3 windows, and very low air leakage. But that extra cost will usually be recovered in just five to ten years through energy savings. Plus, you’ll be more comfortable, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your house is dumping less pollution and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Once you get an idea of what you want, contact builders or architects in your area and find out how experienced they are with energy-efficient construction. Special skills are required to build high-efficiency houses and to install features such as heat-recovery ventilation systems. You may need to spend a little extra time looking for the right builder, but the time and effort will be well worth it.