Purpose – This paper aims to investigate residential occupants’ motivations and behaviour on energy savings. Energy consumption in residential buildings is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.Design/methodology/approach – By using an online survey questionnaire instrument, this research collected 504 sets of responses from households in the state of New South Wales, Australia.Findings – Through statistical analysis of the data collected, this research found that construction cost and government incentive were considered as the major influencing factors on achieving energy-efficient residential building development, and the lower bills resulted from the reduced energy and water consumption were considered as the most important benefits. The research also found that many households exhibited a high level of awareness and had implemented some sustainability improvement measures. It is suggested, based on these research findings, that governments should articulate, by means of education, the rationale and benefits of sustainable home development that are identified in this research and reduce material costs and increase government incentives.Originality/value – Aframework on improving residential sustainability was proposed in this paper. Stakeholders in the sustainable home supply chain could use this framework as a reference to pave the way for energy efficient home development from their perspective.