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Getting to zero energy costs 

The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts colder temperatures and more snow in Western New York than average this winter. But Honeoye Falls resident Matthew Bowers says he isn't concerned, even though he doesn't have a furnace.

Bowers, a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology and certified passive home designer, says he's confident the home he designed will be quite comfortable.

The property, which is located at 340 Quaker Meeting House Road, will be open for tours on Friday, November 11, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, November 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in conjunction with International Passive House Days.

Passive homes originated in Germany about 30 years ago and are just starting to be built in Upstate New York, Bowers says. They use a configuration of structural components such as insulation and specially designed windows to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

"As many windows as possible in this house are facing south," Bowers says. "And an open floor plan is going to work better." If solar were added to the Honeoye Falls structure, the all-electric home would have zero energy costs, he says.

The homes capture heat from the sun and, combined with an airtight design, they use about 90 percent less energy to heat and cool and about 60 percent less energy overall than a standard home, reports Mother Earth News.

"The great thing about passive homes is they can be built to any shape or size," Bowers says. There's no limit to what can be designed, from log cabins to multi-family residences."

"People think that a home like this has to be expensive, and it doesn't," he says. "And there's no reason why a developer can't build [a track of] homes like this."

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