Achieving the airtight passive house that uses less energy through superior trapping of heat and cool air is a far more difficult feat is harsh climates. A recent article from Inhabitat, however, explains how Sonya Newenhouse of Wisconsin beat the odds. The Newenhouse single-family home maintained temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit throughout a winter season when it often went below zero, all while using less energy than the typical hairdryer.

The key ingredients to the success of the German-certified passive house include walls about 18 inches thick and triple-paned windows and doors that, while still allowing for utilization of natural light, keep cold air out. The 970 square-foot home kept indoor temperatures comfortable throughout the harsh winter with the help of only four small heaters generating a combined 1,300 watts.

In addition to achieving the passive house standards, the NewenHouse has a number of other green features. The home is built and furnished using mostly recycled materials, there is a solar array on the roof, water conservation tactics are employed throughout the house, and there is a food-producing garden. What’s more, the interior design comes complete with a lot of character.

Kits based on the NewenHouse will be available for others interested in achieving passive house standards with a new home, even in a harsh climate.

Read more and view a virtual tour of the NewenHouse on Inhabitat.

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