There are for sure a lot of green home building technologies and products out that will eat up your money rather than help you save it, but for the most part a more energy efficient, durable home will save money, and it will do so fairly quickly.
We do have this page that may be worth showing to your partner to get them on board, its about whether or not better insulated homes are worth the money.
And to address the rest of your questions, I think that's an awesome list so I’m copying and pasting to go through it point by point, and I’ll add thoughts and comments and pertinent links, though some you may have already read.
Energy efficient HVAC system – yes, get a good one, that’s worth the money. See our page here about what to look for when choosing between HRVs and ERVs
“Smart” thermostat – typically speaking, a modern green home should be so well-insulated that lowering the thermostat during the day should be somewhat pointless. Read her about smart home devices for energy efficient automated home design.
Lots of wall and ceiling and foundation and attic insulation - yes, see our page here about balancing insulation through a home for the best efficiency. Spoiler alert – heat loss goes in all directions, not just through the roof) read here to see how much insulation you need for green home construction.
Calculating the amount of glazing (not too much, not too little) – Windows facing North, East and West will always lose more heat than they gain on a daily and seasonal cycle, so be sparing with them, and see our pages on choosing the best windows for high performance homes, and remember that it’s best to have different low E coatings on the south than other sides.
Having glazing facing the right direction (e.g., south) See our page on passive solar home design, but the short story is - south facing windows can gain more heat than they lose.
Tight air-sealing of the envelope – Absolutely, make a home as well-sealed as you can and let your ventilation equipment do their job. A poor air barrier and lots of air leakage can account for 1/3 of heat loss in a home.
The best type of windows (thermal conductance, transmittance, solar gain, etc.) – another window question eh? Here is a page on window design for choosing between wood, aluminum and vinyl frames.
Eliminating thermal bridging – yes, always eliminate thermal bridging through the building envelope for energy efficiency and durability
Efficient lighting – You will probably have a lot of natural light based on your passive solar orientation, but still choose LED lights for energy savings. LEDs are very affordable now with a lot of options, see our page on LED filament bulbs
Efficient appliances – yes, it is worth the investment in more efficient appliances like ENERGY STAR Certified.
Solar panels – Whether you will save money with solar panels depends on your local utility costs as well as the cost of installing solar panels in your region. Here are the top questions to ask a solar contractor before signing a contract.
Geothermal heating/cooling – We love it as a concept and its great for larger buildings not smaller homes. Your money would be better spent on insulation, quality windows and all the stuff mentioned above. Geothermal will ‘cut your bills in half’ for maybe 25-40K, so if your heating bill is only 3 or 4 hundred bucks a year then you’d need to live longer than Yoda to make it worthwhile. Read here to see if geothermal is worth it for homes
Adding thermal mass – that depends on your lifestyle, there are ups and downs to it but personally I like it. Thermal mass in home helps balance temperatures, that can save energy but also mean a more comfortable home for occupants.
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