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As a custom home builder, Whitmore Custom Homes builds homes according to our clients’ unique specifications. One of the requests we hear most often is in regards to energy efficiency. Most homeowners today want a home that’s clean and green, both for the environment’s benefit, and to reduce the cost of those monthly energy bills. What we often find, though, is that there’s a lot of confusion about what it really means to have a home that’s energy efficient.

To clear up some of the confusion, we thought we’d put together this blog with a little bit of information about what it means for a home to be energy efficient, and what the different types of energy efficient homes are.


In the most general sense, there are about three different levels of truly energy efficient homes. Let’s get into what they are, and what they could mean for your new custom home:


Air-tight homes are very energy efficient. The term air-tight, when used in reference to homes, means that the home doesn’t let in draughts, and it doesn’t let air escape. Though air-tight homes do not have official stamps of approval, they are very energy efficient, and most can be successfully tested for an Energy Star certification.

What does it mean for you?

An air-tight home doesn’t let air from inside the home escape, which means you can enjoy a very comfortable home year-round. Air-tight homes also save quite a bit of money on utility bills, since your heating and cooling unit needs to work much less to maintain a stable temperature. Many homes are so air-tight that fresh air needs to be introduced into the home to maintain a safe comfortable and efficient home.


If you’ve purchased any kind of appliance in the past few years, you’re probably already familiar with the Energy Star label. It’s a little blue, government-backed symbol that certifies the product you’re purchasing is energy-efficient. A residential home that is Energy Star certified is at least 10% more energy efficient than homes built to code. They also must achieve a 20% improvement on average, and they should provide the homeowner with exceptional quality, performance, and comfort.

Energy Star requirements change constantly as building codes are updated, as more strict energy codes are implemented, and as home building technology continues to improve. If you’d like to build a home that is Energy Star certified, you first need to talk to your builder. Your builder will first assess what needs to be done to build an energy efficient home of that caliber, and then they’ll coordinate with an Energy Star certified Energy Consultant in your area. Together, your builder and the Energy Consultant will design plans for a home that can achieve the level of energy efficiency needed for an Energy Star certification. Then, both during and after the home building process, the Energy consultant will come by to conduct onsite inspections and testing to ensure that your home is measuring up to Energy Star standards.

Once your home passes those tests and inspections, it will become an Energy Star Certified home. With that stamp of approval, you can rest easy knowing you have one of the most efficient homes in the country.

What does it mean for you?

As an owner of an Energy Star certified home, you’ll enjoy lower cost utility and maintenance bills. Since Energy Star certified homes undergo rigorous testing, they’re made from superior quality materials, and they require exceptional craftsmanship. For you, that means increased peace of mind that your home will remain in great shape for years to come.


Though there’s no true stamp of approval for a zero-net energy building, they are considered by many to be just a step ahead of Energy Star certified homes. A zero-net energy home is one that produces as much energy as it consumes in a one year period. This is achieved first through exceptionally efficient, airtight design. Then, solar panels are installed on the roof of the home, which is what produces the energy that zeroes out the overall energy cost of the home.

Some people consider a zero-net energy home to be more efficient than an Energy Star certified home, because the home is simultaneously conserving energy, and producing clean solar energy.

What does it mean for you?

As a zero-net energy homeowner, you’ll pay almost nothing to run your home every year. Since your home is at a net-zero energy use, your credits from the power company will even out any energy bill you pay throughout the year. Add that to the overall environmental benefit you’re creating by producing clean, solar power, and it’s a win-win! You will need to keep in mind that there is more up front cost but you need to look at the payback to truly determine if its the right fit for you.

Energy efficient custom homes are increasingly popular. They’re great for homeowners, and they’re great for the environment, which is why Whitmore Custom Homes is always happy to work with our clients to achieve whatever level of energy efficiency you’re looking for. If you’re looking to build an energy efficient custom home, we can help. Give us a call at (616) 446-3482 or contact us online for more information about your new energy efficient home.

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