California house a model for energy efficiency

It's no secret that homeowners can save on their electricity and heating bills in the long-term by living in more energy efficient homes, but the question remains is how to go about that? For one California couple, the answer was to build their own green home – from scratch! 

The Chico Enterprise Record, a local news publication for Chico, California, interviewed a husband and wife building their "dream home" in Butte Creek Canyon: a 3,000-square-foot, $400,000 house using certain building materials and construction strategies to create an eco-friendly household, light on utility costs and heavy on efficient power consumption. Robin Trenda, with Chico Green Builders, explained some of the methods they've been using, such as "advanced framing," a technique that dates back to the early 1900s.

Advanced framing minimizes the amount of lumber used in home construction, utilizing about 20 percent less wood than typical houses, carrying with it a 25 to 30 percent reduction in costs. This style of "optimal-value engineering" substitutes that extra wood with Styrofoam, which improves household insulation, upgrading the home's ability to generate and store heat and cool air. Carefully placed studs, structural insulated panels and insulating concrete further bolster the home's energy efficiency capabilities. 

Most home building trends are rooted in World War II, when houses were produced in mass quantities without regard to environmental impact or cost, Trenda told the source, "Builders […] just threw wood at a project."

But through carefully planned measures like advanced framing, you can improve your home's ability to regulate energy use and save money on both construction costs and utility expenses.

Of course, if you're interested in an energy efficient home, you don't have to build your own house. Virginia residents can consult with Virginia home inspectors about ways they can improve their property's energy use and reduce their costs in the process.