We must continually work to make more energy efficient housing. There is virtually no one who disagrees with such a worthy goal. The question becomes; how will we be able to take the next giant leap forward, while maintaining the incremental gains in energy efficient housing. The only way to propel such technologies is to experiment and adapt with new prototypes.
Perhaps what we ought to do is to fund new innovative ideas and concepts. Allow people to submit proposals for new energy efficient home designs for funding with the stipulation that they will do a continuous study for five years on the energy efficiency of the home. These people will live in the home and use it, as they normally would, yet constantly audit their energy usage.
The auditing should be done by the family for the first two years and then by an outside third part energy auditor the next three. This does a couple of things. First, the family learns how to live more efficiently. Second, their normal new lifestyle and usage will be documented for research purposes, giving us a better idea of how such technologies will save money and energy in the future.
Surely, the goal here is not to provide housing, but rather to study alternative energy efficiencies. Those people will not necessarily be getting a free house, rather they will become test subjects from human housing and the future of alternative energy efficiencies. In the last housing boom many homes were slapped together and few had energy efficient materials, this was to save money on the cost to build them - indeed those in the home will be paying for that for years to come.