Other energy-smart components of today's newly built homes include induction cooktops, ventless clothes dryers and permeable paving.
Rather than light a burner upon which a pot or pan is placed, induction applies an electrical current directly to the pot or pan. Ritchie says this method of cooking is faster and much more energy-efficient than a traditional gas or electric range.
A ventless clothes dryer pumps out water rather than moist hot air, again with the goal of increased energy efficiency.
Permeable paving creates an outdoor surface solid enough to drive a car over, but porous enough for rainwater to seep into the ground rather than create environmentally unfriendly runoff. The surface might be gravel or could comprise interlocking pavers that click together, yet allow grass to grow between them.
"It's a permeable, drivable surface that looks like grass and can be used as a driveway area," Ritchie says.