We had some really cold weather this past winter (crossing fingers that the cold weather is gone) and there were days where it seems like the heating system in my house just never stopped running. I am sure that it could be insulated better, whether that means just more insulation or sealing up any air leaks that there might be. Some of the big culprits that we generally don’t think about are electrical outlets and holes in the floor for your plumbing. Removing the cover plate and installing a foam seal over the outlet is easy and will help out in sealing off those outlets. Plumbers generally cut a large hole in the sub floor during construction which leaves a large area open to the crawl space (for those with crawl spaces) and allowing in the cold air. Spraying in some expandable foam does wonders for these areas. Unfortunately most homes whether old or new are poorly insulated and this leads to excessive energy consumption.
A lot of newer homes are constructing the exterior walls out of 2×6’s and in new construction there have been many changes that have helped in the insulated value of our homes. Some of those are the quality of the insulation that is manufactured and the amount if insulation that is required by code. The International Energy Conservation Code was adopted by the State of Illinois and for your typical wood frame home, in my area, the R-Value for the walls that is required is 20 or an R-Value of 13 + 5 of continuous insulation. Attic spaces, or ceiling insulation, is required to have an R-Value of 49. So if you consider that the typical R-Value of attic insulation is around 3 and you divide the R-Value of 49 by 3 you get 16.33. That means you should have at least 16.33 inches of insulation in your attic. Crawl spaces are also required to be insulated and can be done in a couple of different ways. Unfortunately, I imagine that most builders do not know these requirements and in essence are building homes less efficient than they should be.
There are different types of insulation out there. Some are better than others so make sure you know what you are getting when you are looking at new homes or are going to have one built.
Seek out your local architect so that they can make sure your builder is providing you with what is required and will give you a comfortable home.