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Here Are The Best 15 Energy-Efficient Homes and Costs 

We all want to save money, right? Of course, we do. But how can you be sure that the projects you’re doing around your home save you money and energy? 

However, if you have the same idea, you’ve probably been skeptical in the past about how much energy a solar panel system can genuinely save you or what benefits LED bulbs have over conventional bulbs. 

These houses will probably change your mind.

WaterShed Maryland House

A photo of WaterShed Maryland House

The University of Maryland’s purpose was to design an energy-efficient house that could stand as a model for future homes.

The wastewater from a washing machine, dishwasher, and shower will recycle through filtering. Moreover, capturing and filtering rainwater takes place to avoid any water wastage.

The waterfall, which also serves as a liquid desiccant and humidity control system, looks excellent while ensuring the right moisture in your home. 

The excess electricity from the solar panels is on standby for later use.

In addition, The house has a state-of-the-art system that monitors and adjusts several parameters to maintain optimal comfort: temperature, lighting, and humidity level.

The High Sierra Cabin Home

The High Sierra Cabin
Courtesy: David Wright

This home is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains and measures 1015 square feet. The walls consist of structural insulation panels, making them energy efficient.

The costs are almost similar to building with wood, so there is no financial reason not to choose SIPs. They are shipped and prefabricated to be assembled on-site.  

SIPs are an excellent option for areas with heavy snowfall and strong winds, tightly insulating the interior of homes and thus reducing heating costs.

The house has large windows and skylights, therefore, allowing lots of natural light. You can also find photovoltaic panels on metal roofs.

The S-5 bracketing system, combined with a seam metal roof, would have been an ideal configuration for mounting PV solar panels.

In addition to the panels, a battery storage system stores any excess electricity and use it at night.

The Jungle Shelter Homes

The Jungle Shelter
Courtesy: Palmex

This house has 1 bedroom, is 384 sq. ft., and costs slightly higher than$1,200.

The exterior walls of this home are studs with spray foam insulation to provide a tropical-proof structure, while they make the roof with thick rigid foam board insulation (about six inches15 cm).

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The house also boasts a rainwater harvesting system that you can use to water the garden and flush toilets. In addition, you can install solar panels on an external structure at your discretion.

DesertSol Las Vegas House

A photo of DesertSol Las Vegas House
Courtesy: Inhabitat

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, constructed an ultra-efficient house that relies on solar power and conserves water.

It’s called DesertSol because it can easily withstand the harsh conditions of a desert climate.

The 30-panel PV (solar) system generates enough electricity for the house’s cooling, heating, lighting, and common household appliances.

The hydronic floor heating system uses water for heat transfer since it is more efficient than air. You can collect rainwater and humidity to be part of the cooling and irrigation systems.

The house was given a LEED Platinum certification for its green building practices.

The Mountain Shelter Homes

This house is situated in the heart of the mountain and covers 688 sq. ft. It has no garage, but it does have only 1 bathroom.

Energy-efficient houses often use solar panels, but you must clear the snow from your roof daily for them to work. This house’s insulation is state-of-the-art and makes it far more energy efficient than most others on the market.

In addition, the roof of the house is made from 2×10 rafters with a 9-inch thick layer of foam insulation. The walls are also covered by highly efficient foam.

Y Container China House

A photo example of Y Container China House
Courtesy: Inhabitat

This is a Y-shaped house made from 6 shipping containers, which gave it its name: the Y container.

This design incorporates landscaping that lets residents view various yard sections’ landscapes while using solar energy to heat hot water and floors.

Phase-change materials and vacuum insulation block heat transfer.

The house has a natural ventilation tunnel that ensures fresh air without increasing operating appliance costs.

The Tongji University team designed this building, which took part in the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Ikaros House

Ikaros House
Courtesy: Inhabitat

This is the IKAROS house. It was specially built for a Solar Decathlon competition, in which countries or American states compete to build the most energy-efficient home.

It costs more than $300,000 to build and will resell renewable energy worth approximately $5000 per year.

This excess heat can be used to warm the house in winter. Vacuum insulation panels provide tight insulation and help keep cooling costs down. 

The heat that exits from these units is piped into a tank of water, which heats up enough for people to take hot showers all year round!

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FLeX house

The FLeX house is a design used to reduce energy costs in areas that face months of extreme heat. 

The architects behind this concept claim that a family with moderate incomes could live comfortably under such conditions.

The building is shaded by the cypress louvers installed on its roof and walls. In addition, the entire north wall opens up to cool interior spaces.

The house’s solar panels, heat pump, and mini-split system ensure that the right amount of heating and cooling is provided.22 panels, every 5 kilowatts in size, are installed together with 11 micro-inverters. 

The amazing software that monitors and diagnoses malfunctions along the way is appreciated by anyone who has worked with such systems.

The FLeX’s low cost and small footprint make it a space-efficient way to provide housing.

LISI House

Energy efficient LISI House
Courtesy: Weisenseer

The design of this house won first place in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. Four rooftop photovoltaic modules generate more energy than the home uses each day.

An ERV unit, a dehumidifier, and a heat exchanger control the temperature inside. Also common to most spaces is an open floor plan that allows for natural light, ensuring proper ventilation of the building.

The vertical gardens allow residents to grow their fruits and vegetables. The exterior movable curtains keep the temperature inside at a pleasant level.

The AIR house in the Czech Republic

The energy efficient AIR house in the Czech Republic
Courtesy: Inhabitat

This design embraces a small living area with ample ventilation to promote fresh air flow into and out of the house.

The acronym A.I.R stands for affordable, innovative, and recyclable, and it was designed to compete in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition in Irvine, California.

The exterior is made of wood for the most part, including its thermal insulation and load-bearing structure.

Artificial lighting was installed and programmed to adjust to people’s circadian rhythms. The system mimics natural conditions as closely as possible.

A solar wooden canopy provides electricity and protection from sun rays. If staying green is essential to you, an electric bicycle can be powered by a charging station.

In addition, the entire house is run on solar energy, including hot water.

Canopy House (Modular House Tidewater Virginia)

An energy efficient Modular House Tidewater Virginia
Courtesy: Inhabitat

The Canopy House, designed by Hampton University and Old Dominion University, sits atop an old water tower.

This property’s layout and architecture make it easier for disabled persons to move around.

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The interior and exterior spaces of the home are connected via a folding glass door system, while radiant floor heating is used to keep things cozy. 

The surplus energy generated by solar thermal panels helps keep water hot and safe for bathing!

The HVAC system’s mini-split design makes it both affordable and energy efficient.

The energy management system is controlled via a tablet application. It’s interactive and teaches users how to make household electricity consumption decisions.

DALE house

The house was dubbed DALE for Dynamic Augmented Living Environment.

It’s made of two distinct “modules,” or areas, for living and sleeping. When opened, these modules create extra space for the outdoors by sliding on a rail system.

The traditional exterior layer is replaced by waterproof vinyl. This allows all the house’s electricity needs to be covered by 28 photovoltaic panels.

Consequently, high-tech solar water heating technology brings hot water to the house. The system uses software that collects information about energy production, consumption, and indoor temperatures to maintain efficient operation.

Stanford CORE house

Stanford CORE house
Courtesy: ArchDaily

Stanford University designed this house, which is made up of a central module that can be added to as needed.

The CORE system, a pre-fabricated core that houses the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room, along with their respective electrical and plumbing systems, is used to unite all the modules of this home.

Salvaged wood from old houses was used for the exterior redwood siding to keep heat transfer at a minimum and reduce costs. The interior hardwood floors were also made of salvaged lumber.

Delta T-90 house

Energy efficient Delta T-90 house
Courtesy: Huntington homes

The Delta T-90 showed that high-performance houses can be sold at moderate prices. The Vermont producer of this home claims that people whose income is 20% below the state’s average can afford it and may well be right.

They prioritized insulation and chose high ceilings and windows to let in light.

Additionally, the heat pump HVAC system uses less energy than other systems and works without ducts or overt elements, so minimal space is lost compared with what you would find in a traditional HVAC.

Radiant House

The Radiant House, designed by Santa Clara University students, is an excellent example of how one can be energy efficient without a high price tag.

PV panels are integrated into the roof structure, with a passive cooling system placed below them.

Large windows allow a lot of light, and the dwelling has access to free hot water from a tank filled with organic phase-change materials.


In Conclusion, on top of everything, the houses are comfortable to live in. The passive solar design means no problem with heating or cooling bills, and they even have a few rainwater collection systems that help keep the costs of plumbing and water low. In short, it pays to be green!

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