What if your home could stay warm without a heating system, or cool without air conditioning? The idea may sound impossible, but new construction techniques have made such buildings a reality in a few places in the country. Passive buildings are constructed to be completely airtight, and employ advanced equipment such as a vapor barrier and a mechanical, balanced ventilation system with heat recovery. They typically show overall energy savings of 60 to 70 percent and 90 percent of space heating over a traditional home.

The concept of passive construction has gained popularity in economically troubled Europe, where about 20,000 of the homes exist, but there are fewer than 100 in the United States—so far. The idea may begin to catch on as homeowners and building managers continue to strive for lower energy costs for heating and air conditioning.

For a look at a passive building, see this article in the Jackson Sun.

The US Passive House Institute has a variety of resources to help people determine if this advanced construction model is for them.

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