Published in the November 2008 issue of Design Cost Data the Passive Solar Home
was projected to cost only $2.50 per day to heat. A news release just received
from Simonton Windows reports even after this past severe winter, the home only
cost $2.50 to heat. To view the project go to
4,000-Square Foot Solar Home Heated for Just $2.50 a Day
Seven years ago homeowner John Kosmer supervised the construction of his passive
solar house in upstate New York. Since that time he's averaged just $2.50 a day
to heat his 4,000-square foot home.
"Despite rising fuel costs and dropping outside temperatures, this house
continues to perform remarkably," says Kosmer. "This past winter has been
especially brutal with temperatures regularly at or below the teens. Yet we've
spent just $400 in propane and $550 in wood to keep our home always heated to
between 69 and 75 degrees. Average that out with the rest of the year and it
cost us $2.63 per day. Last year we averaged just $2.36 per day because it
wasn't as cold outside. Overall, we've consistently seen a cost of just $2.50 a
day for heating during the past seven years."
Kosmer credits the construction process of his southern-facing home and the use
of energy efficient products for his long-term savings. "We have 53 Simonton
windows in this home that were constructed with an Argon gas filling, double
glazing and Low E Softcoat," says Kosmer. "These windows are ENERGY STAR®
compliant and one of the best investments I made to save on our energy bills.
“We've found the vinyl frames on these windows offer superior energy efficiency
capabilities. Our casement windows close up very tightly to minimize sound
penetration and help eliminate any air infiltration from the regular 30 mph
winds we experience here. As a bonus, the vinyl has been maintenance-free during
the past seven years, which is a big plus as we get older."
Another element of the Kosmer home that encourages low energy usage is the
central woodstove with a red enamel stovepipe that rises several stories in the
atrium of the house. The atrium acts like a huge duct, carrying heated air up
into grilles in the attic ductwork. From there, it’s then redistributed
throughout the home to keep temperatures comfortable.
“Heating costs for this home are so low because the sun is responsible for the
lion’s share of the heat,” says Kosmer. “Our passive solar house was constructed
so that it retains heat and moves it through the home in a ducted air heat
"The efficiency of the house is based on two things --- the amount of solar gain
(heat) I get from the sun during the day and how much of that heat we can
efficiently keep from dissipating out. Overcast days and shorter daylight hours
are the conditions we have during the winter months that make this house work
hard to obtain solar energy.
"On sunny days our hot water solar panels help reduce heating costs. They
preheat the water in my hot water tank. When I am not using wood, propane uses a
hot water system to heat the house. When the water is already preheated to a
higher temperature that means the propane heater has to use less fuel to deliver
Kosmer, builder John Carrigan with Building With Integrity, and Bruce Brownell
of Adirondack Alternative Energy, all worked together to carefully select the
products used to construct the three-story home back in 2007. As the solar
engineer on the project, Brownell specified four-inch thick rigid polyurethane
on the exterior walls, under the roof and beneath the one-foot concrete slab. A
state-of-the-art boiler was added to include supplemental heat during the
coldest weather. And, pre-finished concrete siding with a 50-year warranty
covers the home’s exterior.
For more details on the Kosmer home, visit
Simonton Windows delivers award-recognized products to key markets throughout
the 48 continental United States and North America. Simonton is a Founding
Sponsor of The Weather Museum, a Lifetime Founding Sponsor of the Lead Safe
America Foundation, and a supporter of Homes for Our Troops. For information,
call (800) SIMONTON (1-800-746-6686) or visit