Building or buying a home

A row of a new houses in Richmond, British Columbia

Increase comfort, savings with a home that's built better from the ground up

If you're in the market for a new home, you're probably thinking about ways to maximize your budget in order to get all the features important to you and your family.

Energy efficiency may not be the first thing on your list, but taking into consideration how a home is built and what that can mean for your family's comfort, health and future energy bills is important. Knowing what to look for, and what to ask your realtor or contractor, can help you make better decisions about your new home.

Are you a builder or looking to engage a contractor to build a home that meets high standards of energy efficiency? Learn about energy performance standards in B.C. and why an energy-efficient home is a more comfortable and healthier option. 

Important questions to ask when looking for a new home

Various factors can affect how much noise from outside transfers into your home. Windows and doors are a big part of this, and ensuring your home is built with energy-efficient double or triple pane windows, patio doors, and skylights will not only help you to save energy, you’ll be able to enjoy more of what you’re doing indoors, rather than focus on the noises from outside.

What to ask your contractor or realtor

  • Does this home have energy efficient windows and doors?

The temperature of your home is so important to your comfort, and there are a few key factors that can have an impact. A well-built home will have more insulation in ceilings and walls to retain your home’s temperature, so your heating/cooling system won’t have to work overtime to keep you comfortable. An efficient heating and cooling system that uses less energy doesn’t just save you money, but also reduces cold and hot spots around the house to improve the overall comfort of your home. Energy efficient windows and doors will also keep your home more comfortable all year round, by keeping the heat in during the winter and out during the summer.

What to ask your contractor or realtor

  • What kind of heating and cooling/ventilation system does this home have (gas, electric, furnace, baseboard, etc)?
  • How old is the system (or when was it last replaced)?
  • What kind of maintenance does the system require?
  • What can you tell me about the insulation of this home?
  • Does this home have energy efficient windows and doors?

An energy efficient home will have a good ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilation (HRV). HRV systems provide a balanced fresh air supply, reduce indoor humidity, and help prevent the contamination of your home with dust, pollen and other allergens. This will make it a healthier home for your family to live in.

What to ask your contractor or realtor

  • Does this home have a heat recovery ventilation system?

Homes built to national energy performance (SB1) standards are designed and built to be more energy efficient in the long-run. They have energy-efficient systems and products installed throughout the home, to reduce the home’s overall energy usage. For example, ENERGY STAR appliances will reduce your electricity use and help you save on your utility bills. LED lights use up to 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and last much longer – so you have to change them less.

What to ask your contractor or realtor

  • Does this home have ENERGY STAR® and water-saving appliances?
  • Does this home have LED lighting?

When buying a home, its future value for you and your family, or a future buyer are important considerations for your investment. With an energy efficient home, you know you’re building or buying a home that will stand the test of time. Energy efficient homes will have an efficient, and well-built envelope and tightly sealed structure, which results in less air and moisture leakage that can cause costly renovations. In combination with efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems, your energy efficient home will perform year over year, while keeping your maintenance cost low.

What to ask your contractor or realtor

  • Does this home have an EnerGuide rating?
  • Is this home EnergyStar, R-2000, Net Zero Energy (ready) or Passive House certified?
  • Have any energy efficiency upgrades been made to this home?
  • Does this home have solar panels?

To help, look for homes that are built to meet national energy performance standards. These homes will be anywhere from 20 to 80% more efficient than the average new home built today. This means that in addition to having all the features you want, you'll also enjoy a more comfortable environment for you and your family, plus the added benefit of lower energy bills year after year. And, with a range of options available a better built, more efficient home doesn't have to cost that much more.

Learn more about the different energy performance standards and see how they stack up.

Check out these great energy efficient homes in our Buildings We Love series.