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CU Boulder “SPARC” House
October 2, 2021 - January 15, 2022
A compact two stories and 1,176 square feet, the dark brown house commands sweeping views of the surrounding mountains in Fraser, a quaint town with a year-round population of 1,500, just a few miles north of the Winter Park Ski Area. A 7.6-kilowatt array of solar panels covers the roof’s south side and powers the house, set to catch the more than 300 days of sunshine it gets every year. It’s equipped with three highly-energy efficient cold-climate heat pumps that can handle Fraser’s low temperatures, which have lent the town the unofficial title of the “Icebox of the Nation.”
Inside, an induction cooking stove avoids the need for fossil fuel combustion inside the all-electric home. The heat pumps, water heating, electric vehicle charging systems, lighting and some plug loads can all be remote controlled and/or timed to minimize electricity use during periods when the electric grid is most stressed, or to maximize the use of solar power. It’s so well insulated with multiple layers of wool and quad-lite windows that from the inside, it’s almost impossible to hear the regular train traffic that rumbles past town.
And the house is so energy efficient, it’s already selling energy back to the local power grid—all while temperatures still drop below freezing at night and the owners use it to charge their electric car.