What is an Energy Efficient Home?

Published on
December 22, 2021

Learn about the different elements that go into energy efficient homes.

An energy efficient home is just what it sounds like: a home that uses energy efficiently. It cuts down on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary energy waste that often comes along with your traditional home, reducing your environmental impact and saving you a ton of money in the process. Really, investing in an energy efficient home is kind of a win-win situation!

The best part is any home can be made energy efficient, as long as you’re willing to put in the work. Let’s take a closer look at the different elements that may go into an energy efficient home.

Airtight Insulation

An energy efficient home is well insulated and air sealed to help keep your space at the desired temperature. This ensures that your heating and cooling systems don’t have to compete with the outside elements when trying to maintain a certain temperature in your home, ultimately reducing energy consumption and utility bills.

The nice thing about airtight insulation is that it can be one of the most cost-effective ways of improving energy efficiency in the home. Even just sealing and putting some extra insulation around the attic and outer walls can make a significant difference.

Controlled Ventilation

Since an energy efficient home typically features airtight insulation, it’s important that it is ventilated properly using controlled, mechanical ventilation. This is for a few reasons:

  • It decreases air moisture infiltration in your home, which can otherwise lead to structural damage.
  • It reduces indoor air pollution and its associated health risks.
  • It generally makes your home a more comfortable environment

Heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators are both great options when it comes to controlled ventilation, so you’ll typically find at least one of these in an airtight, energy efficient home. These kinds of ventilators use a heat exchanger to take about 70% of the stale exhaust air energy and transfer it to the entering fresh air.

Efficient Heating and Cooling Systems

Your heating and cooling systems are typically responsible for a good chunk of the energy usage in your home - nearly half, in fact. Therefore, energy efficient homes usually feature the following to keep their systems in check:

  • Insulated and sealed heating and cooling ducts, especially in the garage, basement, crawlspace, and attic. Properly insulating and sealing ducts can improve energy efficiency by 20% or more.
  • A smart thermostat, preferably one with an ENERGY STAR symbol. This allows homeowners to control their thermostat with their smart device, and can save them around $100 a year if their house is empty most of the day and/or they have really high heating and cooling bills.

ENERGY STAR Certified Products

Energy efficient homes often feature ENERGY STAR certified products. Items marked with this blue-and-white symbol have been recognized for their high energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR program originally started in the United States, but since partnering with Natural Resources Canada there have been plenty of businesses and organizations who have joined the program and are committed to promoting energy efficiency products and services. If you’re curious, you can check out a list of the participants here.