Letter to the Editor: Homeowners Must Demand Energy-Efficient Homes

A small but passionate group of U.S. architects and builders, myself among them, has advocated for years for the design and construction of high-performance homes, which can save 80% or more energy compared with code-built homes. We have created this type of construction to not only reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and help reduce the impact of global climate change, but also to lower clients’ energy bills and provide them with healthier, more comfortable homes.

A few Door County builders have constructed these homes, but only when working under the direct supervision of a designer formally trained in energy-efficient design. Most homes built today are “brand-new 40-year-old homes” because the construction energy codes have not changed since 1979. 

Builders claim “it costs too much money to build energy-efficient homes.” No statement could be more wrong.

A properly built energy-efficient home, combined with its energy savings, typically costs no more out of pocket each month – and in some cases may cost less – than a code-built house, which follows basic, rock-bottom energy regulations, below which it will not pass compliance. This construction accounts for nearly all the new homes built today.

The energy sector just announced that electric costs will soon be rising again because the price of natural gas is increasing as the U.S. ships gas overseas. Chevron this quarter reported a 359% profit increase over the same quarter last year, and other petroleum companies have likewise reported booming profits, while at the same time stealing the dwindling financial resources of their customers. You can be assured home energy costs will continue to rise.

The only way to counteract ever-escalating home energy costs is by building or retrofitting homes that use much less energy, and the only way to stop construction of these energy-guzzling homes is for homeowners to mandate that their contractors and designers use only highly energy-efficient standards, and demand energy-efficiency codes from their state. 

Other states have already begun this transition. Tell your representatives and the governor that you want Wisconsin to stop being a rock-bottom construction energy slacker and once again become a leader.

Virge Temme

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin