Imagine a house so energy efficient that it needs no central heating, even in Ithaca.
It’s what’s called a passive home–they have caught on in Europe and are just now popping up in North America–and they are part of the Ecovillage at Ithaca’s third neighborhood.
The houses are being built using solar panels that work in the winter to provide essentially free heat.
Ecovillage Executive Director Liz Walker says the homes conserves 90 percent of the energy needed for heating and cooling a house.
“Rather than pay big bills to the energy companies, we’ll be generating our own power both through these energy-efficient homes, and through use of solar panels, which will provide electricity for the homes,” Walker said.
Walker says solar thermal energy will provide hot water for the homes.
Passive house construction is commonly used in Europe but is new to North America. It’s considered the highest building standard in the world.
Walker says construction of the passive homes in Ecovillage’s third neighborhood is expected to be completed by summer of 2014.