17 Eco-Friendly Home Design Features

Explore your options for an energy-efficient home

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. These house designs help keep the occupants of the home healthy, and the efficient use of resources aids in preventing pollution and environmental deterioration.

To live in an eco-friendly home your costs could range from low-investment to high-investment. On the lower end, you’ll find simple additions that 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 more energy efficient, but are a larger financial commitment. Many of these investment pay off over time. Chinburg Properties recently built a Portsmouth neighborhood of high-performance homes with energy ratings that translated into energy cost savings of more than $1,200 per year.

Why Should I Make My Home Green?

Building a green home from the ground up is easier than retrofitting an existing home, but both options hold the potential to realize considerable financial savings.

Energy-saving measures like ceiling and wall insulation may be difficult to retrofit into an existing home (and depending on the scope, may not even by possible) but when you’re starting from scratch it is easier to incorporate features like blown in cellulose insulation, low-flow plumbing, sustainable materials and much more. If you think you may want to make your home green someday, talk to your new home builder about it during your original building project — you may be able to avoid costly and bothersome renovations in the future if you invest in building green from the beginning.

Considerations for Eco-Friendly Homes

The best place to start is simply with a conversation. Our knowledgeable professionals can work with you toward creating a green home building plan that fits your goals, your budget and your lifestyle. Here are some considerations we’ll discuss as you think about planning your eco-friendly home:

Site selection
Orienting your home to take advantage of the sun can have a positive impact on 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 in the summer from the heat and allow natural warmth from the sun in the winter when the leaves fall.

House design
The pre-planning is where many of your eco-friendly design decisions will be made. For example, you want to thoughtfully 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 further away from the foundation. 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.

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 from the beginning of a new home 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 you will minimize drafts and cold spots.

During construction
You can 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.

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

When you’re building an eco-friendly home, you can make the project as simple or advanced as you choose.

Perhaps you want to make some simple tweaks like adding ENERGY STAR windows and appliances, or maybe you want to dive deeper into sustainable building materials and solar. Whatever level of commitment you choose, the team at Chinburg will build your new green home to ENERGY STAR standards. In fact, Chinburg has been chosen as Energy Star partner of the year for the past 4 years, a national honor earned by only a handful of construction companies in the entire USA.

As an eco-friendly option, carefully planned and environmentally friendly communities preserve open space and minimize the impact on the area’s natural resources.

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 advantages of existing land features. We try to preserve open space and minimize any impact on surrounding land.

17 Features of Eco-Friendly Homes

From simple additions to more expensive renovations, there are numerous ways to create energy-efficient homes, including:

  1. Energy efficient insulation and windows
    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 to find the right window for you.
  2. ENERGY STAR-certified lighting
    Save energy (and money) with ENERGY STAR-certified lighting, such as bulbs, fixtures, ceiling fans and decorative lights.
  3. High-performance gas furnaces
    According to the Department of Energy, you could save almost $1,800 a year by purchasing an ENERGY STAR residential heating system.
  4. ENERGY STAR appliances
    Consider installing smart appliances such as ENERGY STAR-rated, dishwashers, washers and dryers and air conditioners.
  5. Flooring choices
    Resilient and sustainable flooring products, such as bamboo, are an eco-friendly material choice that will last for a long time.
  6. 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 amounts of) Volatile Organic Compounds.
  7. Dual flush toilets
    You have the potential to save $100 a year with this energy-saving fixture.
  8. Solar panels
    You shouldn’t discount a solar panel just because 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 cost.
  9. High-efficiency and water-conservation 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 a WaterSense labeled toilet is an energy-efficient option that can reduce your bills and save up to 13,000 gallons of water a year. Consider investing in other environmentally friendly fixtures and appliances such as showerheads and faucets.
  10. Dual-pane, low-emittance windows
    More than one layer of glass means 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.
  11. Energy-efficient air conditioning
    Some 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.
  12. Certified wood from sustainable forests
    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 ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits,” according to the FSC.
  13. Blown-in cellulose wall insulation
    You can also opt for loose-fill cellulose insulation, which is similar to spray foam and is blown into the wall.
  14. 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.
  15. Satellite-controlled sprinkler systems
    There are systems available that allow you to monitor local weather by using satellites so that you only use your sprinklers when you need them.
  16. Heat pumps to heat and cool homes
    Heat pumps are an eco-friendly substitute for furnaces and air conditioners. “Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances,” according to the Department of Energy.
  17. Passive 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.

Building Eco-Friendly Homes Since Before “Green” Was a Buzzword

For well over a decade, we have been building environmentally friendly homes and developments to ENERGY STAR standards. In fact we’ve been awarded the highly competitive ENERGY STAR partner of the award, for 4 years in a row.

We have earned a reputation as a home-building leader in the region. Always on the cutting edge of new energy-efficient approaches to development and building, we have built two 100% high-performance neighborhoods on the Seacoast of New Hampshire.

Where Do I Start?

The best place to start is simply with a conversation. Please contact us  to chat with one of our knowledgeable building professionals, and tell us about your goals, budget and needs for your home. We will work with you to create a green building plan that fits you and your life. There are many green building options that await you at Chinburg Properties.


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