15 Eco-Friendly Home Design Features

Explore your options for an energy-efficient home

Explore your options for an energy-efficient home

What Makes a Home Eco-Friendly?
Why Should I Make My Home Green?
Considerations for Eco-Friendly Homes
Chinburg is an ENERGY STAR® Leader
15 Eco-Friendly Home Features
Where Do I Start?

What Makes a Home Eco-Friendly?

Eco-friendly homes, otherwise known as green homes, are built with energy-efficient and environmentally friendly materials and designs. Green home designs help keep the occupants of the home healthy, and the efficient use of resources aids in preventing pollution and environmental deterioration.

Green homes range from low-investment to high-investment, and can involve minor to major alterations to a traditional home. On the less expensive end, you’ll find that modern additions can have a big impact, such as upgrading to energy-efficient windows and doors, ENERGY STAR® appliances and lighting, and water-saving bathroom fixtures. Major additions such as solar panels will make your home much more energy efficient, but are a larger financial commitment. However, many of these investments will pay off over time.

For example, Chinburg Properties built an entire Portsmouth neighborhood of high-performance homes with energy ratings that translate conservatively into more than $1,500 in energy savings each year — not to mention a reduced carbon footprint, thermal comfort and a smart design.

Why Should I Make My Home Green?

Building an energy-efficient home from the ground up is technically easier than retrofitting an existing home, but both options hold the potential for considerable financial savings in the long run.

When you’re building a home from the ground up, you have a unique opportunity to build a green home with relatively little deviation from the initial project timeline. Measures like energy-saving ceiling and wall insulation may be difficult to retrofit into an existing home (and depending on the scope, may not even be possible) but when you’re building new, it is much easier to incorporate features like blown and cellulose insulation, low-flow plumbing, sustainable materials and much more.

If you think you may want to make your home green someday, talk to a green home builder about it now — you may be able to avoid costly renovations in the future if you invest in building green from the beginning.

Considerations for Eco-Friendly Homes

Our knowledgeable team of professionals can work with you to create a building plan that fits your green goals, your budget and your lifestyle. Here are some considerations we’ll discuss as you think about planning your eco-friendly home:

  • Site selection
    • Orient your home to take advantage of the sun and you will see the difference in your energy bills. This is critical if you are planning to use solar. You may also want to consider building near mature, well-established deciduous trees, which will protect your home from the heat in the summer and let in natural warmth from the sun in the winter after the leaves fall.
  • House design
    • The pre-planning is where many of your energy-efficient home design decisions will be made. For example, you want to plan a home that is well insulated, doesn’t provide more space than you need and offers opportunities to use low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and carpets.
  • Roof considerations
    • Roof overhangs can help manage water so that it drips away from the foundation and reduces the chance of flooding or water damage. When you see a home that has long icicles hanging from the roofline, that is an indication that there is heat escaping in that location, and the insulation could be tightened up to seal in heat.
  • Insulation
    • If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, pay close attention to your insulation. It’s much easier to install the right kind of insulation during a new build instead of changing it out after construction is complete. Insulation prevents heat from escaping in the winter and keeps the home cooler in the summer, requiring less power. It is also much more comfortable to live in, as it will minimize drafts and cold spots.
  • Building materials
    • Energy efficiency can begin before you even move into your new home. Choose materials that feature recycled components, are naturally insulating, have been harvested or created sustainably, or are biodegradable.
  • During construction
    • Check in with your builder about recycling construction waste. You can also minimize environmental impact by asking the contractor to avoid cutting down any more trees than is necessary and implementing erosion control protections, such as managing the disturbed soil to prevent runoff during heavy rain.
  • Occupancy and beyond
    • Maintaining an energy-efficient house sometimes requires extra, albeit minimal, effort from the occupants.  Make sure all members of your household know basic energy-saving habits, such as water-saving measures, turning off lights when they leave a room and using fans instead of an A/C.


Chinburg is an ENERGY STAR® Leader

When you’re building an eco-friendly home, you can make the project as simple or advanced as you choose. ​​Whatever level of commitment you choose, the team at Chinburg will build your new green home to ENERGY STAR® standards.

For well over a decade, we have been building environmentally friendly homes and developments to ENERGY STAR® standards. In fact, Chinburg has been chosen as an ENERGY STAR® partner of the year for the past four years, a national honor earned by only a handful of construction companies in the entire USA.

The goal for all Chinburg properties is a beautifully designed and constructed home with a low carbon footprint and energy savings for the customer. In all of our projects, we strive for original, thoughtful site design that takes advantage of existing land features. We try to preserve open space and minimize the impact on surrounding land or the area’s natural resources.

Having built two 100% high-performance neighborhoods on the New Hampshire Seacoast and over 500 ENERGY STAR® standard homes since 2003, we have earned a reputation as a leading eco-friendly home builder in our region.

15 Eco-Friendly Home Features

  • Energy-efficient lighting
    • Save energy (and money) with ENERGY STAR®-certified lighting solutions, such as bulbs, fixtures, ceiling fans and decorative lights.
  • Energy-efficient air conditioning
    • Some A/C units feature an energy-saving setting, which means the unit’s compressor and fan will shut off once your space has cooled. There are also many ENERGY STAR®-certified central air conditioners, some of which you can even control remotely.
  • Energy-efficient insulation and windows
    • Blown-in cellulose insulation, which is wood- or paper-based, is a common eco-friendly choice. When it comes to windows, the Department of Energy recommends looking for the ENERGY STAR® label and reviewing the ratings on the energy performance level from the National Fenestration Rating Council. Dual-pane windows feature two layers of glass that provide more protection between your home and the outside elements. Low-emittance windows are coated in a material that reduces the amount of energy lost through the glass.
  • ENERGY STAR® appliances
    • Consider installing smart appliances such as ENERGY STAR®-rated, dishwashers, washers, dryers and air conditioners.
  • Fresh air ventilation system
    • The Department of Energy outlines three types of basic ventilation strategies: natural, spot and whole-house. Natural, fresh air ventilation means opening windows and doors, but it doesn’t always heat or cool different parts of a home equally. Spot ventilation includes using exhaust fans, and whole-house ventilation provides controlled ventilation throughout the entire home through fans or duct systems.
  • Harvest and recycle rainwater
    • Rainwater can be passively collected and filtered for non-potable uses in the home, including laundry, toilets, and garden and lawn irrigation.
  • Heat pumps to heat and cool home
    • Heat pumps are an eco-friendly substitute for furnaces and air conditioners, since they move heat rather than generate heat. Heat pumps have the potential to provide equivalent heating and cooling at one quarter of the cost of conventional appliances.
  • High efficiency, water-conserving appliances
    • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30% of an average home’s indoor water consumption.” Installing an energy-efficient, WaterSense-labeled toilet can reduce your bills and save up to 13,000 gallons of water a year. You also have the potential to reduce your annual water bill by $100 with a dual flush toilet that offers two options for flush volume. Consider investing in other environmentally friendly fixtures and appliances such as showerheads and faucets.
  • High performance gas furnaces
    • The Department of Energy estimates that ENERGY STAR® residential heating systems save homeowners almost $1,800 a year.
  • Passive energy-efficient house design techniques
    • A passive home design uses a home’s site location, the climate and building materials to reduce the amount of energy used for heating and cooling.
  • Satellite controlled sprinkler systems
    • These systems allow you to monitor local weather by using satellites so that you only use your sprinklers when you need them.
  • Smart technology
    • Using a system such as Google Nest allows you to plan and regulate temperatures in your home depending on your heating needs. You can even adjust the thermostat remotely from your smartphone.
  • Solar panels
    • Don’t count solar panels out if you live in New England. While the cost can vary depending on the location and which company you choose, this alternative energy source is a great way to go green and save on energy bills. You can also earn tax incentives and rebates, which can offset the initial costs.
  • Sustainable flooring choices
    • Resilient and sustainable flooring products, such as bamboo, are an eco-friendly material choice that will last for a long time. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forest Initiative are both popular options when it comes to building with certified wood from sustainable forests. FSC certification, in particular, ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits
  • VOC-free paints
    • When it comes to paints, stains and finishes, look for non-toxic stains and sealers and paint that’s free from (or contains low levels of) volatile organic compounds (VOCs).


Where Do I Start?

The best place to start is by doing your research and deciding which eco-friendly choices are most important to you. Once you have decided to build with Chinburg, you can rest assured that our knowledgeable professionals will help you create the home of your dreams. Contact us to learn more.

Residential Building NH
Residential Building NH
Residential Building NH
Residential Building NH
Residential Building NH

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Our plans can be customized with your details or we can recommend a local architect to create totally original plans. Our team is with you from start to finish.