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A House You Could Heat With A Hair Dryer

At the forefront of energy saving home construction is movement called Passive House. Passive houses are so air tight, builders say they can be heated with a hair dryer.

Buildings consume an estimated 42 percent of America’s energy – more than any other sector. Moving to a more sustainable future compels more energy efficiency in new building construction

The Passive House movement is big in Europe, where energy costs much more, but inroads are being made here too. Last week Ross Reynolds went to visit Seattle’s first certified Passive House, a modern three story home on a skinny lot in the Madison Valley. It was a collaboration between NK architects, architect Rob Harrison and the man who built the house for his family to live in, Sloan Ritchie.

Ritchie said most materials for a passive home can be purchased locally, with the exception of the windows he used for his house. These windows allow heat in and prevent it from going out. He had to go all the way to Lithuania to find them.

Another challenge of constructing an air tight home is relentless attention to plugging the holes drilled for pipes and wires. Each one has to be plugged to keep out cold air.

This weekend is International Passive House Days, which allows the public to tour homes in their area.

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