North Carolina getaway a model of energy efficiency

Vacation homes are great investments for those who can afford them. However, their utility costs are often a huge drain on homeowners who aren't even occupying the space the majority of the year.

An approach taken by a Minnesota couple who built a vacation home in North Carolina shows that energy efficiency pays off on second properties. By constructing a house that doesn't run up their bills, they have made owning a getaway much more affordable.

The couple who commissioned the house had incorporated many clean technologies into their primary residence, such as high-efficiency windows and smart insulation keep them warm during their native state's harsh winters.

"They were pleasantly surprised that we were up to date with some of the things they’ve been doing in Minnesota for a long time," said Richard King, owner of Brookstone Builders, the company that designed the home, in a profile for EcoHome Magazine.

The house looks like a traditional North Carolina cabin, but it actually features top-of-the-line conservation systems. The home was certified Gold by the Green Built North Carolina certification program because of its use of Pella insulated windows, recycled wood floors, a tankless water heater as well as ample spray insulation.

The home, located in the Black Mountains, doesn't sacrifice comfort to achieve energy conservation. The kitchen is state of the art, utilizing Energy Star appliances, and the house features a wrap around porch and 1,400 square feet of living space.

Homeowners looking to save money on the bills for their vacation properties or primary residences do not need to look into new construction. An energy audit from a home inspection contractor can suggest where residents should stop waste and renovate in less than efficient houses.