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Friday, June 11, 2010

Hudson home's energy use puts it nearly off the grid

From an article by Andy Rathbunin the Pioneer Press, Minneapolis & St. Paul:

A local physician is building a house in Wisconsin without a furnace — it won't need one.

Rising over the St. Croix River Valley, the 1,940-square-foot, three-bedroom home will use solar power and the latest in energy-efficient construction. Designed to let in the maximum amount of sunlight, its walls are 11 inches of insulated concrete surrounded by 11 inches of exterior foam insulation.

In extreme cold, electric heaters in the floors can help warm the entire house.

"On the coldest, cloudiest days of the winter, we'll need the equivalent of like 2,500 watts, which is basically a couple of handheld hair dryers," said Dr. Gary Konkol, who is building the one-of-a-kind home in the town of Hudson, Wis.

Once completed, Konkol's house will be carbon-neutral — that is, it will produce at least as much electricity as it consumes.

The home will also be a "passive house," a highly insulated type of construction reducing heating and cooling needs 90 percent to 95 percent and overall energy consumption 70 percent to 80 percent, said Katrin Klingenberg, executive director of the Passive House Institute US.

While there are tens of thousands of such buildings in Europe, there are only about a dozen in the U.S. certified as passive homes, Klingenberg said. Konkol's home will be the first in Wisconsin and the first of the kind in the country to also be carbon-neutral.

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