The other day I was asked a question if item A was more efficient than item B in New Mexico. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question. If you built two identical houses one in Alamogordo and one 20 miles away in Cloudcroft the energy use patterns and total energy used would be completely different. So what is my point. Not every house design is ideal for every location and there is not one thing that makes a house energy efficient. Houses need to be designed as a whole system to make them energy efficient. This takes into account the location of the land, weather patterns, floor plan, construction method, insulation levels, window location & type, heating and cooling equipment… it all matters. In an ideal world we would all be able to buy our piece of property and then have an architect design a house specifically for that location, our lifestyle and to meet our energy efficiency goals. But, the reality is that most of us don’t have the money or the time to make that dream come true.
So, what are the rest of us to do? Look for a house with a HERS rating or that has been ENERGY STAR® qualified. That way you know someone has inspected, tested and computer modeled the house to give it a score. A way to compare it to other homes you like. Think of it as the MPG for your house. Would you buy your car without looking at the MPG rating?