Some of these are as easy as adding insulation to your attic, walls and crawl spaces.
There are also new insulation products that are more efficient than traditional fiberglass insulation.
You could also build your home with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) or build a straw bale house.
These are building systems that are gaining a lot of popularity, and I will devote a whole future article to.
• Windows and Doors -Windows and doors are becoming more and more efficient with low E glass, triple panes and argon-filled windows.
• Airtight Buildings - There are many products and techniques that can be used to create more airtight buildings, such as caulking, weather stripping and foam forms to put around all your electrical plugs and switches.
• Design of the Building - One of the most obvious strategies for designing an energy efficient home is smaller is better.
Sarah Susanka's book, "The Not So Big House", is a great reference for ideas in this area.
The orientation of your home on your lot and the placement of windows can have a huge effect on your energy costs.
Here in the Colorado mountains, one should try to incorporate as many passive solar strategies into the design of the home as possible.
• Renewable Energy Resources - One can incorporate active solar heating, photovoltaic cells and wind generated energy into a home.
These products are getting more and more cost effective but they are still more expensive than traditional systems.
But over the life of the building, they will more than pay for the up-front costs and be kinder to our environment.
There are also government incentives that help offset the cost.
• Energy-Efficient Lighting and Appliances - You can now buy energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs and light fixtures almost anywhere bulbs and light fixtures are sold.
There are also many choices of energy-efficient appliances and, they are not that much more expensive than less efficient models.
• Mechanical Systems -There have also been advances is furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and air conditioning units.
You can now buy instant hot water heaters that only heat the water as it is needed.
There are also boilers that heat your home as well as your domestic hot water in one unit.
Also, if you build a home that is airtight and well insulated you will be able to buy a smaller furnace to heat the same area.