New home buyers often cite the increased energy efficiency of new homes versus resale homes as one of their strongest reasons for considering new, and for good reason. Today’s homes are far more energy efficient than older homes because new construction techniques minimize air infiltration and heat transfer.

Besides being structurally sounder, you’ll have a chance to improve a new home’s energy efficiency even more when you opt for any or all of these five choices:

1. Upgrade the HVAC System

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in your home is the most energy-hungry appliance in the typical home. It’s worth it to choose a system that offers higher efficiency to cut cooling and heating bills. Most HVAC equipment lasts between 12 and 20 years, and the extra cost of more efficient equipment pays for itself in lower energy bills over time. More efficient systems offer features that also improve comfort, run more quietly, and last longer.

2. Choose Energy Star Appliances

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) established the Energy Star program in the 1990s to more easily identify energy efficient appliances. Products that meet the criteria of the Energy Star program are labeled on the appliance itself and its packaging. Look for dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, and water heaters that bear this label to save money. An appliance that carries the Most Efficient designation indicates the appliance or device offers even more efficiency than those that earn the Energy Star label.

3. Opt for LED Lighting

Ask for LED lighting throughout your home instead of CFL. Both are efficient types of lighting, but LEDs produce less heat and last longer than CFLs. CLF bulbs tend to burn out faster when they’re turned on and off frequently, which does not affect LED bulbs.


4. Beef up the Insulation

Better insulation always translates to a more energy efficient home, and if it’s possible, increase the amount in the attic. The DOE has established recommendations for attic insulation levels that range from R-30 in warm climates to R-60 in colder, northern states. The “R” stands for resistance, and the number following it indicates the number of hours the insulating product resists temperature change. R-30 resists temperature change for 30 hours, and R-60 provides 60 hours of thermal resistance.


5. Select Energy Star Windows

Although they cost more initially, Energy Star or thermal rated windows save substantial amounts of energy, which lowers heating and cooling costs. Dual-pane, low-emissivity (low-e), and gas-filled windows resist heat transfer and air infiltration. If the Energy Star label isn’t visible on the windows, look for the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) label. The NFRC discloses how well windows perform in terms of solar heat gain, air leakage, light transfer and condensation resistance.