New Construction Homes: Are they More Efficient?

Debra Lopez

April 19, 2021

Do you need a larger home because your family has outgrown your current space? Have you decided to downsize because you’ve recently retired? Are you a first-time home buyer looking for your forever house? Maybe you have an older home, but now you can’t keep up with all the repairs it needs.

Whatever your reasons for wanting a new home, you’ve begun your search. Other than size and location, one of the most important topics on your mind is energy efficiency. You care about your carbon footprint and the earth’s resources. You want a home that is easy to care for, has good insulation, an effective HVAC system, saves water, and more. But you have concerns regarding whether you should buy an existing home or build a new one.

Your question is: Are new construction homes more energy efficient?

Floor Plans in New Homes

New construction homes very often have open floor plans. This means there are fewer walls and, instead, a large multipurpose room with unobstructed views between spaces. For example, someone in the kitchen can have a conversation with a guest in the living area while keeping eye contact at the same time.

Open floor plans offer a flow from one area to another. But is that always a good thing? Is it more difficult to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer? Is it more expensive to heat and cool new construction homes?

The short answer is yes… and no. Yes, open floor plans are a good thing. No, as insulation, HVAC systems, and windows have become more effective, it is not more difficult to keep the house at the right temperature. It is often much less expensive, too.

There is no need to jump through hoops in new construction homes to save on utility bills and moderate cooling and heating. So why are new homes so much more energy-efficient than older homes? Here are a few reasons.

Older Homes and Energy Efficiency

Many times, the easiest (and only) way to keep an older home’s air temperature more comfortable is to close off rooms, wrap plastic around windows, and roll up a towel or blanket to put in front of exterior thresholds. Homeowners do this to keep a steadier temperature in the house and stop other air from leaking in around windows and doors.

To help, even more, residents may use electric fans in the summer and wear heavy sweaters in the winter. Additionally, many older houses have fireplaces in the main living area. However, lighting a fire can only help to add heat if the chimney, flue, and airflow are in good shape. Otherwise, it’ll just look pretty or potentially blow smoke into the house.

These methods are a few ways to manage utility bills. However, homeowners of old houses are fighting a losing battle most of the time.

The problem is, entrance doors are often ill-fitting, and windows may have just one pane of glass. In old houses, builders used crumpled newspaper or thin, ineffective stuffing to insulate walls, if there was any insulation used at all.

New Construction Homes

On the other hand, new construction homes are built with much greater energy efficiency. Keeping cold and heat where they need to be, windows can have up to three panes of glass. To keep the house airtight, thick insulation is unrolled or sprayed between exterior wall studs, in the attic, and the basement. High efficient HVACs can heat or cool separate zones with different temperatures any time of the day or night. Frankly, retrofitting an old house to match the efficiency of today’s new construction homes may be prohibitively expensive.

Sunlight, Breezes, and New Construction Windows

An open floor plan with lots of windows offers great benefits to lower utility bills. These homes get year-round sunshine to warm and illuminate the main living area. Natural sunlight during the day means less need for artificial lighting, lowering electric bills.

During the warm days of summer, to keep the interior cooler, close the blinds or curtains if there is too much heat and sunshine. Also, reducing energy consumption, open windows on breezy days allows airflow throughout the house. Using ceiling fans in winter and summer helps the home’s HVAC system work more efficiently.

Why Build New Vs. Purchase an Existing Home?

As you may have discovered, there are serious concerns regarding an older house’s energy efficiency. However, you should also think about your future: do you need an area to wash and groom your dogs, will you have another baby, do you have guests coming, are your elderly parents eventually moving in? Existing houses may not have the features you need because they aren’t designed for both the present and the future.

Additionally, do you need flexible spaces for a growing family, quiet nooks for reading or doing homework, a large kitchen for hosting holidays? A home builder can create a floor plan to meet your needs for both today and tomorrow. Floor plan options can offer an extra room for a home office, dining room, or guest bedroom. Add a mini apartment for in-laws or create flex rooms to use as play areas, craft rooms, homeschooling, etc.

Unfortunately, an existing older home may require costly repairs within the first few years of moving in, such as a new water heater, appliances, windows, or roof. You may even have to upgrade plumbing or wiring. Old houses also cost more to maintain and run, especially if there are ill-fitting doors, old windows, and lousy insulation.

New construction homes are built with more energy efficiency. In the long run, that means fewer costs and lower utility bills. Spend your free time with your family doing what you love, not fixing things!

Joseph Douglas Homes

Are you thinking of building a new home with energy efficiency in mind? The experts at Joseph Douglas Homes will help you choose the best floor plan, with the right windows, HVAC, water heater, direct vent fireplace, and other systems to save energy. Since 1998, Joseph Douglas Homes has offered new construction homes and award-winning craftsmanship to residents across southeastern Wisconsin.

Your new construction home will be comfortable, ideal for entertaining, and  – most importantly – eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and built to Energy Star standards. Call Joseph Douglas Homes and get started on your highest quality, most energy-efficient dream home! You can build a home from one of their plans, your plans, or design a one-of-a-kind home. Contact Joseph Douglas Homes today!


Meet the Author

Debra Lopez

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