Big House, Small Bills: How We Built an Energy Efficient Home #DEsmarthome

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When we were planning the build of Our DIY House, we knew right from day one that we wanted to build as “smartly” and as energy efficiently as possible. Since we were moving from an 880 square foot house to a 2000+ square foot house, we needed to make sure that we wouldn’t be paying an massive amount of money on our energy bills.

How to build an energy efficient house and save money!

Here are some of the things we did when we built our house to ensure that it was super-efficient and uber smart! We did spend a little extra money initially on some of these things, but MAN are we happy that our house bills are hardly any bigger than what we were paying in a house 1/3 of the size!

We use compact florescent light bulbs and LED light bulbs.

Energy Efficient Home Building Tips

They last a long time and use less power to run than traditional bulbs.

We use smart thermostats.

Energy Efficient Home Building Tips

Our Nest thermostat is programmable, it keeps track of our heating habits and can adjust accordingly, and we can access it from our phones and tablets. It’s really neat and saves us a lot of time and money!

We insulated with spray foam.

Energy Efficient Home Building Tips

Our spray foam insulation is eco-friendly (it’s soy-based) and it insulates far better than traditional pink insulation.

We installed high quality windows.

Energy Efficient Home Building Tips

We chose to go with triple pane, double glazed, argon filled windows. They’re slightly more expensive than other kinds, but they lock out the cold and intense heat so that our house doesn’t have to work as hard to heat and cool.

We installed in-floor heating.

Installing Laminate Flooring by The DIY Mommy. (Allen + Roth Provence Oak Laminate from Lowe's Canada)

Our house is heated by a boiler system that heats water and pumps it through pipes under our floor. Not only does this heat feel wonderful on the tootsies, but it’s far more efficient than a forced-air heating system.

We have dual flush toilets.

Energy Efficient Home Building Tips

Our toilets are the dual flush kind, so you can choose to use more or less water depending on your needs. We waste far less water this way!

If you’re interested in having an energy efficient home like ours, Direct Energy is committed to helping their customers build a smarter home and thus cut down on their energy usage – saving the customer time and money. Currently they’re offering the opportunity for anyone to learn more about creating a smarter home by visiting their Facebook page. For customers living in Alberta, Canada they offer the Comfort & Control PlanThis 5-year dual fuel plan includes a fixed rate for your Alberta electricity (which won’t change for 5 years!) and flex-through Alberta natural gas with the security of a winter cap plus a Nest Learning Thermostat. Click here for the details.

Thank you to Direct Energy for sponsoring today’s post, and encouraging me to share tips for a smarter home!


  1. Love the spray foam and wish we were able to add it to our place; so efficient!! Our old home (1920s) has so many efficiency challenges. We use a low flush toilet, efficient bulbs, added a high efficiency furnace, and are working to upgrade the insulation where we can. Little things do add up!

    1. It’s so true! Every little thing counts. I would have loved to reno a heritage home, so you are living my dream! Hubby was really against it, though, so that’s why our new house looks kind of like a heritage home – so we were both happy. 😉

  2. I dream of building a home where we can do all of those things! I especially would love to do the spray foam and the in-floor heating. Is it the type of system that basically replaces a water heater, so the hot water you use is from the pipes heating the floor?
    I’m definitely a bigger fan of the LEDs as they contain no mercury like the CFLs. CFLs are fine as long as they are properly disposed of (i.e. taken to an Eco-Station or other lightbulb recycling program), but are awful for the environment if thrown into the garbage. LEDs are also more efficient than CFLs in the long run.
    Love love love your DIY home!!

  3. I noticed you installed the weathered look flooring. What type is it? I absolutely love how it looks. 🙂

  4. I’ve heard that Spray Foam is the best insulation to use for energy efficiency. It supposedly traps pockets of air within itself, something that other insulators can’t do. This makes it exceptionally better than most others.

  5. My husband and I are going to be building a new home over the summer. I want to make the house as energy efficient as possible, so I’m happy that I found your post! I liked all of your ideas, especially what you mentioned about installing an in-floor heating system. You mentioned that this kind of heating system is much more efficient than a forced-air system, which I think is great! I’m going to talk to our home builder about installing an in-floor heating system in our home. Thank you for the great idea!

  6. I wouldn’t have thought that in-floor heating would make it onto a list of eco-friendly installations. However, since it’s heated by a boiler system, I can understand why it was included. Like you said, heating water with a boiler is much more energy efficient than a forced-air heating system. Thanks for the ideas!

  7. These are great tips to save energy in the home. I will have to look into dual flush toilets and LED lights, they both seem to be becoming more popular! Thanks for sharing.

  8. One way to save lots of energy is to turn off a light switch instead of pulling the chain. Pulling the chain doesn’t fully cut off the circuit and will significantly lower your electric bill. Thanks for writing!

  9. Adding home insulation to an existing home will also increase sound control. Insulation creates a sound barrier, keeping unwanted sounds out and protecting your privacy by keeping the sounds from inside your home from being audible outside. Insulating your home also creates a moisture barrier, keeping unwanted moisture out of your house.

  10. Insulation assists greatly in keeping heat within a building in winter and slowing the flow of heat into the building in summer. An insulated building will therefore be warmer in winter and cooler in summer, creating a more comfortable environment all year round.

  11. Adding insulation to your home is a great way to increase the comfort of your living environment. Adding home insulation to an existing home will regulate the temperature, making your living environment more enjoyable, especially in places of extreme weather.

  12. Waking up in the morning is when this is most apparent. Your room is freezing cold, and then you get out of bed just to step on those cold floors which carry all the way into to the kitchen.

  13. Insulation’s primary job is to slow heat flow from room to room in your house. You want to slow this movement of heat and capture it in one place to keep the temperature the same throughout.

  14. Remodeling can be as simple as changing the paint color in your living room or laying a different color of carpet in your bedroom. Something this simple can make significant changes in your house’s ambiance.

    1. Those painful mornings when you just don’t want to get out of bed because it is so cold or the floors in your house are so cold you can’t even walk on them without breaking out the arctic gear.

  15. Christina, I appreciate every effort in anyone trying to make their lives greener. I think this is the real deal to make our future bright. Having said that, I think new smart home technologies will play a big role in this!

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