Luxury Construction Company
Sonoma County

ZSM Construction Co. License # 857055
Custom Home Builder In Sonoma County

Best building materials for energy efficient houses pro vs cons

Building materials for energy efficient houses are becoming more and more popular as people are searching for better materials that will keep out the wind and rain while also achieving their dream of using only renewable and recycled material. 

However, some California home builders may shy away from these types of building materials for energy efficient houses because they often cost much more than their counterparts. Even just adding one more layer of insulation or a glazed window can increase the cost of the building materials by approximately 20 percent.

However, when figuring out the costs, it is also important to determine how much energy consumption will be saved with these energy-efficient building materials. The homeowner can quickly recover the cost of these materials in just a few years of lower heating and cooling bills in their new energy-efficient home.

So, now that we know the advantages of spending a bit more for an energy-efficient home, what are the best building materials to use for these energy-efficient homes?

How energy-efficient is recycled steel?

Many builders are now ordering recycled steel to frame the homes because of its durability to high winds and even earthquakes. It has been said that in order to build a 2,000 square foot home, you would need up to 50 trees to do so. 

However, the amount of recycled steel needed to build the same size home would only equate to about six scrapped vehicles.

When you use recycled steel, you are reducing the energy that is needed to make the steel while also saving space in landfills.

Why do I need insulation for concrete?

When you pour concrete into forms, it can serve as the insulation layers the home needs and will also stay in place as a permanent fixture for the home. When a home is built with insulated concrete forms, the homeowner can actually find a 20 percent savings in their energy consumption when compared to a wood-frame home in cooler climates. 

What kind of cooler roofing options are available?

You have probably heard that in order to stay cooler on a hot day, you want to wear white or other lighter colors because black and darker colors absorb the heat rather than reflect it. When you have a cool roof, you are essentially reflecting the heat from the sun to keep the home cooler. When the roof is cooler, less heat will be transferred into the home.

While a roof needed to be lighter in the past for this concept to work, there are now new technologies that allow the homeowner to continue to choose darker colors for the roof, but they won’t absorb the heat as they did in the past.

These building materials do cost more than traditional materials, but again, you will save in the long run when it comes to your energy bills.

Energy-Efficient Low-E Windows

The E in Low-E stands for emissivity. There is a clear coating of metallic oxide on Low-E windows, and this keeps the heat inside the house during the winter and keeps the heat out during the summer. This kind of coating is often used in homes that don’t have double-paned windows. 

Each Low-E window will cost approximately 15% more than clear glass storm windows, but you will find that you can cut your energy costs by more than 20 percent which is a huge cost savings for you as well.

Bamboo Plywood

This building material is often used for interior design as well as cabinetry and flooring. It is a renewable and sustainable resource that is completely natural and non-toxic. Bamboo is also stronger than steel and is a durable and rugged choice to incorporate into an energy-efficient home.


This is another natural material that can be used in an energy-efficient home and serves as good insulation. It is also a lot easier to install cork as the home’s insulation than it is to install traditional fiberglass insulation. 

It is delivered to the home in sheets or blocks and is just placed easily where it needs to go. For insulation purposes, it can be placed between the outer and inner wall and can significantly reduce the energy consumption and costs for the home.


Solar panels have been in use for decades now and are common in many communities across the country. However, solar energy still only makes up for about one percent of the country’s total energy supply. Now, with more recent advancements in technology, we see active solar panel installations that can accommodate a variety of homes.

Passive solar design uses the sun’s natural positioning to provide the home with heating and shading as well as a combination of the two. 

Final Thoughts

When building and designing an energy-efficient home, it is important to understand that there may be higher upfront costs involved, but you will more than make up for the investment over time with reduced energy bills. 

When you begin building your own luxury home, there are several aspects of the process you will have to consider and carefully think through if you want to make the home as energy-efficient as possible. 

Having an energy-efficient home means reduced energy use, saved money, and a higher level of comfort. It also goes a long way in increasing the overall resale value of the home as well. With so many of the best building materials to choose from including those mentioned above as well as straw bales and plant-based polyurethane foam, you will find that the process is much easier than you may have originally thought when it comes to building your new home in northern California. 

Need advice or information on finding a residential contractor that can help you build a more energy-efficient home? Then contact us at ZSM Construction Co. today so we can walk you through the process and ensure that you have access to only the highest quality of work as you build a luxury home.   

1 thought on “Best Building Materials for Energy Efficient Houses”

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: