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Rural Solar Home with Passive Air-Core
Environs of Monroe, Wisconsin

For years this professional couple has needed often to live apart in two different states and they dearly wanted a home to retire together in, on rural Wisconsin farmland that has been in the husband's family for generations. They wanted a modest house with low energy needs, and the potential to be free of the electric grid altogether in the future. And they wanted to make full use of the great store of lumber that they'd cut and seasoned for building someday.

Construction proceeded in 2007. The home is beautifully sited on a gentle grassy slope facing the sun. The main living areas collect and store the sun's heat via an 'air core floor'.
The home also includes:

  • a master bedroom with a large skylight centered over the bed
  • home offices in a second floor loft
  • a wood-burning heater with a stone surround
  • a screened sitting porch for Wisconsin's mosquito-filled summer nights, and
  • a central bent of hand-wrought heavy timber structure that frames the overlook from the loft spaces into the 'cathedral ceiling' of the main living area.

Although careful design of the topography conceals the fact, the northward side of the house is actually bermed several feet deep into the slope. Multiple entry points however -- and barrier-free layout of the interior -- ensure that the home will be usable should the owners ever need the use of a wheelchair.

above: The large south-facing roof is sloped and oriented for solar. The conduits are already instelled in the walls, ready for the installation of future photovoltaic panels

 

left: The main entry, framed with heavy-timber