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Payback Time

A small house in Vermont goes above code to cut energy bills by more than half

Northern Vermont can endure brutal winters. Built beyond code standards, this 1500-sq.-ft. house ran up just $767 in its 2010 electricity and natural-gas bills. Dunbar Oehmig, president of the firm that built the home, describes how SIP construction and attention to air-sealing helped to create a supertight house. Additionally, the house uses a high-efficiency, modulating, condensing boiler for hot water; a wastewater heat-recovery device; fluorescent and LED lighting; a heat-recovery ventilator; and Energy Star appliances. Among the house's durable, low-maintenance materials is a green roof assembly with a lightweight growing medium over a filter fabric and root barrier.

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