There's a kind of house that will stay warm even when it's freezing outside, by combining several modern building techniques. It's the passive house concept, that uses naturally-available heat to keep the interior a pleasant 70 degrees year-round. A passive house is situated with windows that allow sunshine to warm the house, and an airtight construction with highly-insulated 15-inch thick walls. Solar panels provide what electricity the home needs. The passive houses being built in Maine have no furnaces, just a small heat pump to aid the ventilation system.
Maine Public Radio talked with a family who lives in a passive home, and their power bills are the minimum charge to stay connected to the grid- $13 a month, winter and summer. A passive house must be constructed from the ground up, and costs about 10% more than traditional construction. That cost will be made up over time, but the real savings can be seen in the construction of large buildings- apartments, dorms, hospitals, etc, where the extra construction cost is negligible. Still, there are already around 100 single family passive homes in Maine, saving their occupants thousands of dollars in heating costs. -via Nag on the Lake
(Image credit: GO Logic)