Passive house design eliminates the need for traditional heating systems in even the most challenging climates, so bills for heating oil, natural gas or propane could become a thing of the past. Super-insulated construction and the use of energy-efficient appliances further reduce the energy footprint in a passive home. To be certified by the Passivhaus Institut, a passive house must consume less than 15 kilowatt-hours of electricity per square meter per year for heating and cooling, with total energy consumption for all heat, hot water and household electricity not to exceed 120 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year [source: Passivhaus Institut].
Dr. Gary Konkol, owner of the "Passive House in the Woods," a 1,940-square-foot (180.2 square-meter) passive house built in 2010 in Hudson, Wis., reported energy consumption of 679 kilowatt-hours for a 38-day period that included the cold and cloudy month of November 2010 [source: Hanson]. Even with the cloudy weather, a small solar array in the yard provided 366 kilowatt-hours of electricity, leaving just 313 kilowatt-hours to be purchased from the electric company. Total energy cost for 38 days: $35, which covered all heating, ventilation, hot water and household electricity [source: Eian].