In a world where the damage caused to the environment by human civilisation becomes more of a hot button issue every year, making your new, built-to-order home as energy-efficient as possible is never a bad idea. An energy-efficient home will not only take less of a toll on the environment with its decreased power usage and carbon emissions but will also benefit your bank account by lowering your energy and utility bills.

Bungalow designs are a particularly popular choice for the environmentally-conscious home builder; single storey dwellings tend to be much cheaper to heat during winter and cool during summer and use less energy pumping water to bathrooms and kitchens. However, there are ways to make a custom-built bungalow even more energy-efficient.

1. Avoid traditional brick and block construction

The traditional method of building homes with masonry bricks and breeze blocks may produce bungalows with old-school charm, but it isn't so charming to the environmentally-conscious. Compared to bungalows built with more modern methods, brick and block homes do not have particularly good heat insulation; they will lose a lot of warm air during winter and cold air during summer and are subsequently significantly more expensive to heat and cool.

For a greener bungalow, have your new single-storey home built with more modern materials, such as timber or steel trusses or insulated structural panels. If you have your heart set on brick and block construction, or local building regulations mandate the use of this traditional building method, you should pay extra attention to the insulation types used to insulate your walls and roof cavities.

2. Consider insulation types carefully

On the subject of wall and roof insulation, fibreglass rolls and bats remain the most commonly used form of insulation, and they provide excellent retention of warm and cool air. They are an excellent choice for an energy efficient bungalow, but only if you seek energy efficiency for purely financial reasons. If you want your bungalow also to be environmentally-sound they aren't such a good choice, as they are not recyclable, non-biodegradable and take a significant amount of energy and materials to produce.

Cellulose fill insulation, which is made from recycled paper and is blown into walls and roof cavities in semi-liquid form, dried and solidified to create a very efficient and much more environmentally-friendly form of insulation. Boards and batts made from compressed wood fibres are also very green. Sheep's wool insulation provides even more effective insulation than most fibreglass insulation types, although it is expensive.

3. Choose and place your windows carefully

Windows and skylights are weak points in the insulation of any home, and if you are aiming for maximum energy efficiency and reduction of heating/air conditioning usage, they should be chosen and situated with great care. At the very least, they should be double-glazed to prevent excessive heat exchange; if you can afford them, triple-glazed windows and skylights provide even better insulation and will also muffle outdoor noises (such as passing traffic) more effectively.

You should also try to avoid placing larger picture windows on the east and west-facing sides of your bungalow. Not only will they let in blinding light when the sun is low on the horizon, but the sun shining directly through these windows will heat up your home significantly during the summer months. For more information, contact your local home builders.