"My energy-saving program saved me in this depressed housing market because buyers are just as conservation-conscious as I am," a small-volume homebuilder in Carroll County, Md., maintains.

Russell W. Allen, who builds subdivision and custom houses, said that he changed his building technique in recent years to use deeper (2-by-10-inch) studs for framing to permit the placement of nine inches of blanket insulation in the walls of his houses. He also uses 12 inches of insulation in his attic, as well as thermal windows, weatherstripping and additional caulking to avoid leaks that might destroy the efficiency of his electrically heated houses.

Most of Allen's houses, priced from $74,000 to $90,000, are built in Carroll Wood Estates on Rte. 27, about four miles north of Mount Airy and eight miles north of Damascus. Allen said he has been a builder for 10 years and usually completes five to 10 houses annually.

"My customers, many of whom work in Washington, Baltimore, Rockville and Gaithersburg, are interested in saving money on energy and I have facts to show that the use of increased insulation and a heat pump can save at least 40 percent on heating and cooling bills," he said.

An independent energy consultant, William Gallentine of Frederick, Md., recently evaluated an Allen-built house and said in a report to the builder that the house could be heated and cooled for less than $300 a year.

A typical Allen house has 2,568 square feet and sits on a half-acre lot.

Allen's wife June, who has a realty firm in nearby Eldersburg, Md., sells the houses, which are split-levels, split-foyers, ranchers of "whatever the customer wants," he said.