Let’s forget the green movement for a moment. The topic has exploded in the mainstream, but that growth has resulted in false claims and an unbelievable amount of greenwashing. The definition of what makes something green is subjective, making the issue as thorny as it is puzzling to consumers and builders alike.

So let’s talk in real terms. According to the EPA, the average household spends about $2,200 on energy bills every year. People in drafty old houses with single-pane windows, under-insulated walls, and prehistoric appliances are likely paying more. Simply put, saving energy will save people money.

Unlike green, energy efficiency is something that home buyers can understand, process, and wrap their heads around. As evidence of this, window replacement contractors say they have seen a marked increase in business since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which included provisions for homeowners to receive a tax credit of up to $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements. The popularity of the Cash for Clunkers CARS program also highlights this trend.

For this reason, builders should think of energy efficiency as a prime construction strategy.

Where do you begin? Right here. In this story, you will find 10 cost-effective strategies that will help you build a better home--and one with features that your sales staff can quantify to potential buyers. There are other, more sophisticated strategies, of course, but these tried and true practices will give you best bang for your buck.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, ME.