This Maine home can stay 70 degrees without a furnace, even when it’s freezing outside

This Maine home can stay 70 degrees without a furnace, even when it’s freezing outside

What if you could style a house that on a chilly working day in January would continue to be at 70 degrees inside — without functioning the furnace? Or even having a furnace?

It truly is now remaining accomplished.

In point, what’s recognized as the passive household concept arrived to the United States in 2006, and is currently being utilised to build structures through the U.S.

Maine Community recently visited a passive household in the town of Hope to find out how it operates — and what it expenditures.

Deep Dive Climate Driven

This tale is component of our sequence “Local weather Pushed: A deep dive into Maine’s response, one particular county at a time.”

It’s 31 levels outside the house when Patrick McCunney greets a reporter on the porch of his newly crafted passive dwelling.

He moved here from Philadelphia with his spouse, Madeleine Mackell, and their two youthful daughters a very little over a 12 months back, and the couple suggests that they made a decision to develop the 1,500-sq.-foot, two-tale New England farmhouse-fashion household realizing that they would preserve funds on electrical power over time.

Although it was 31 levels exterior, the inside was considerably cozier.

“It really is about 70 levels in below,” McCunney, who is a mechanical engineer, claims. “And once you set that temperature the house, due to the fact of its airtightness and quantity of insulation, it maintains that temperature quite efficiently.”

And do they have a furnace?

“No furnace,” he provides. “Just this little little warmth pump. Relying a good deal on the sun to heat, which in the winter season is rather amazing.”

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Keith Shortall


Maine Community

Patrick McCunney and Madeleine Mackell within their passive home in Hope.

The sun streams in by means of a wall of windows on the south aspect of the house, and on to a rooftop solar array that McCunney states on vivid days like this will create four occasions as a lot electricity as the residence desires.

That implies that the only warmth or energy monthly bill they fork out in the wintertime is the relationship cost to Central Maine Energy — about $13 a month.

“We desired it to be a sustainable structure and supplies and the actuality that we only have to pay $13 a month for our relationship cost is just an included reward,” Mackell claims.

McCunney adds, “Also with a passive home, you are severating on your own from the volatility of the electrical power environment and what that provides and unknowns as we enter into this new warming planet and sort of offer some buffer towards that chaos.”

The builder of this passive dwelling, Alan Gibson of the Belfast-primarily based business GO Logic, says he co-established the firm precisely to focus in passive constructions that would attraction to buyers in search of energy effectiveness

“Absolutely, along with other gains together with convenience and resilience and longevity appear alongside with it,” he says. “It’s just that initially expense problem that anyone stumbles on.”

Passive properties, Gibson states, do value about 10% extra to create than traditional constructions, merely simply because they have far more things in them.

“There is more insulation, there is a lot more care taken to make positive they are airtight, there’s the air flow system, there is far better windows and doors. And people have a really hard time receiving past that even nevertheless we can show them pretty quickly that the financial payback is there,” he says.

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Areas of passive houses are fabricated at a GO Logic workshop in Waldo.

So, let’s look at the math. Say a traditional solitary family members residence that is up to code prices $400,000. A similar passive house would operate about $40,000 additional.

Most of that excess price goes into the 15-inch thick walls, with a number of levels of insulation and sheathing, higher-general performance triple-glazed home windows and doorways, and a ventilation system, which is significant in an airtight constructing to enable it and its inhabitants to breathe.

Gibson states it is made to deliver in clean air from outside the house, but keep a great deal of the warmth.

“And it has a heat exchanger in it that recovers almost all of the heat which is getting sent out and transfers that warmth power to the incoming air,” he suggests. “So your incoming air is not 20 degrees if it is 20 degrees outside. It’s warmed up to about 65.”

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Keith Shortall


Maine Community

Alan Gibson, owner and supervisor of GO Logic.

And Gibson says in addition to the big reduction in carbon emissions from not burning fossil fuels for warmth, GO Logic’s passive properties are created of wooden and agricultural-based mostly materials that are carbon pleasant.

There are additional than 100 passive residences in Maine. But even advocates of the style and design typical accept that it is not really best-suited for single family members houses.

“If you can find the money for that, and that is what you want to do, there is certainly no downside. I will say that,” states Naomi Beal, executive director of passivehausMAINE, a nonprofit that for the earlier ten years has been doing the job to support develop the use of passive residence style and design, specially for much larger buildings.

She states that is where by the price tag-benefit equations for the regular make the most perception.

“The German design has generally been for larger sized structures. For multi-people, for industrial projects of all kinds: hospitals, prisons, dormitories. There’s not a barrier of charge at that degree commonly,” Beal suggests.

“There is not further expense at that degree,” she provides. “It is just a issue of realizing how to do it.

And there are a expanding selection of larger sized passive structures in Maine, such as the 218,000-square-foot Portland Home Hall under development at the College of Southern Maine, which will be the next largest passive property university building in the country.


A passive household in the town of Hope created by GO Logic.