BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – For those wanting to downsize or those wanting to live off the grid efficiently, there is a larger alternative to the very small houses of the recent tiny house movement. Efficiency Vermont has parked its zero energy modular home pop-up for display and presentation of workshops through Aug. 5 in the parking lot by the Waypoint Center and train depot in Bellows Falls.
This display model is 14 by 40 feet or roughly 500 square feet of living space compared to the 2,300 square feet of an average house or the 260 square feet of a typical tiny house. The one bedroom, full bath display model is designed to fit comfortably on a typical mobile home lot as well as any kind of land.
Peter Schneider, a heat efficiency expert for the organization, said that Efficiency Vermont came about as a response to Hurricane Irene in 2011 when Vermont, having lost so many mobile homes, realized how important they are to the state’s housing stock. This particular model is designed as a replacement for a mobile home, but the zero efficiency home comes in larger, up to four bedrooms, or even a smaller tiny house size versions. Schneider says it’s “a great approach that lets people access home ownership due to savings.”
The zero energy part of the house is just that. Solar panels on the roof and a battery provide all the power the house needs all year round. A lot of this is achieved by its insulated 10-inch thick walls and floor and 12-inch ceiling. It is basically double the normal heat retention for its fresh air heat recovery heating system. Schneider said their model has been “quite popular” at the annual Brattleboro tiny house festival.
Guy Payne of Saxtons River was one of a number of curious local residents and others who turned out for the opening of the display last Saturday. Payne said, “This is the next generation of buildings.”
Others remarked on the surprising spacious feeling of the combination living room, dining room, and kitchen that had a full size refrigerator and stove and a half size dishwasher. It was noted that a relatively high ceiling helped alleviate the claustrophobic feeling that some who had seen tiny houses had felt.
The zero energy modular home will be open for viewing and tours by Efficiency Vermont staff Wednesdays 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Consultants will be available to share their knowledge of technologies like heat pumps, solar, and batteries, as well as the many home ownership programs in Vermont.
There will be workshops on efficiency and maintaining a healthy environment. The first was June 11 on reducing electric bills and efficiency home improvements. They will continue June 25, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., on creating and maintaining a healthy home environment and for contractors, builders, and architects June 18 and July 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Efficiency Vermont can be accessed by calling 802-540-7662 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.