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Tips to Designing an Energy Efficient Home

Energy Efficient Home

When you buy a new home and you begin to think about furnishing and designing options, there’s a lot to consider. Chief among your considerations will be room design and setup, any architectural changes you might want to make, and certainly color changes or new trendy patterns for the walls. But your thoughts usually don’t gravitate toward creating a more energy efficient home, or how your design choices may impact your utility bills. 

What if the fashionable and energy efficient weren’t mutually exclusive? You can have both. In fact, you may be surprised to discover that design choices for an energy efficient home can also be the more esthetically pleasing.

An energy efficient home has a well maintained roof

A good roof is necessary for the obvious reasons, keeping the water on the outside and curb appeal. If you pick the right roofing material, you’ll not only look great and fend off the leaks, but you can also keep your home cool by defending against the summer heat as well as keep the home comfortable during the winter. The right roof materials will help you control your internal climate and reduce costs.

Changing your roof, however, won’t be cheap. It’s a big job with a big commitment. You need to get this right because you don’t get do-overs. Do your research and make the right choices for your home. Remember, the size, shape, and age of your home, as well as the material of the roof, are all key variables in your selection process.

When selecting roofing material, be sure to check with ENERGY STAR or the Department of Energy (DOE) for recommendations. From time-to-time you may even find local or or other subsidy programs that allow you to consider adding solar.

Windows contribute toward an energy efficient home

Did you know that a substantial amount of the heat your home retains or looses goes through your windows? That’s right. According to the Department of Energy, windows account for 30% of your energy costs from lost or retained heat in the home. Your windows become a great place to create a more energy efficient home.

If it’s in the budget, you can consider replacing your windows with more energy-efficient models. However, for many new home buyers you’re on a budget. New windows may not be an option. If you’re not ready for new windows, there are still great options available. If you’re not ready for replacement, get your windows winterized with cold-weather caulking, updated weather stripping, and possibly consider awnings.

If replacing your windows is in the budget, once again consult ENERGY STAR. You will find there are many designs that improve the look of the home, are extremely durable, and come with the ENERGY STAR certification.

ENERGY STAR appliances can save you a bundle

There is a theme when considering a more energy efficient home, and it’s ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR is your go-to resource for finding home products, and this is true for your appliances. However, you can also find recommendations for everything from light bulbs to televisions, as a way to keep your energy usage—and energy costs—lower.

This program’s primary object is not design aesthetics, it’s energy efficiency, so when selecting your appliances your keen design sense will be required. You first step should be to first identify the ENERGY STAR seal of approval, filter out the less efficient models and then make your final choice based on taste. You can absolutely find both efficient, elegant, and functional. The ENERGY STAR website is a good place to start.

Invest in new energy-smart lighting

Lighting technology has come a long way. The simple incandescent lightbulb is no longer the dominate choice for lighting your home. Today you have a vast array of LED lighting options to serve both as overhead and ambient lighting options. With modern lighting options, you not only get fashionable alternatives to chandeliers and table lamps, but you are moving toward a much more energy efficient lighting system.

If you haven’t been keeping up on advances made in lightbulb technology, LED lightbulbs are superior to incandescent lights and are designed to reduce energy waste. In fact, there are a host of LED bulbs that can work with smart home technology, and can be dimmed or turned off with a simple voice command. You can also set your lighting system so that it automatically come on and shut off when you enter or leave a room. Hi-tech lighting is the future, it’s fashionable, offers you smart-technology options and will save you big on those electric bills.

Your drapery selections can make a real impact

Your drapery choices or window treatments can be more than a simple design choice. Window treatments can actually be useful tools toward creating an energy efficient home. If you hang heavy drapes made of natural fabrics you can design a look that also warms up a space during the winter. If heat is your concern, then lightweight drapery is good if you want more sun and heat let in a room. If your room calls for binds, there are solar blinds that keep the sun out and help maintain a temperate room environment. 

Obviously, you’ll be looking for draperies with a keen eye toward design. However, look beyond the design features and take the temperature of the room into consideration. Then select a wall treatment that will yield great energy-saving results and work into your design concept.

Lay down a rug to warm a room

Area rugs are a great way to accent a room, but they are also natural insulators, much like draperies. If you select naturally woven pieces in materials like wool, bamboo, and hemp when shopping for area rugs, you can help control the climate of a room.  

Rugs are functional elements that can warm up a room during the cooler months and cool things down during the warmer months. Natural, breathable fibers will also avoid off-gassing in your home. Something that’s important in keeping your indoor air healthy all year long.


You are going to live in your house a long time, so you need to make the space work for you as well as appeal to your unique taste. The good thing is that there are many options available to you that not only help create a more energy efficient home, but also contribute to your design aesthetic. Over the many years you’ll live in this house, the incremental monthly savings will really add up, as will your contribution toward a cleaner environment for you neighbors. It’s true, some of these things can cost a pretty penny, so don’t forget to itemize anything (eg. rugs) that are harder to replace on you home insurance, or get a re-assessment on the home’s replacement cost when you’ve made significant upgrades. 

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