A home in Dillingham, Alaska just set a new record as the world's tightest residential building. Built by owners and residents Dr. Tom Marsik and Kristin Donalson, the extremely well insulated home has walls that are 28 inches thick. To achieve the world record, the couple made the home so tight that it barely leaks any air. A tight envelope ensures minimal energy loss due to leaks, and it's a hallmark of homes built according to Passive Haus/or Passive House US standards. From the outside, the house is plain with barely any windows and no decorations - but it the interior is exceptional insofar as it uses a fraction of the energy consumed by other homes in Alaska.
Marsik and Donalson are not house builders, but they decided to build their own home in Dillingham, AK. Most homes are heated using heating fuel, but the couple decided to cut out this costly energy resource and build a really energy efficient home that relied only on electricity. The 24×24 ft building is only 590 sq ft with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. One of the bedrooms is lofted above the main living room/kitchen.
Keeping the design of the home simple helped the couple achieve the efficiency goals they wanted. The walls are 28 in thick with with both cellulose and fiberglass insulation resulting in R-90 walls, an R-140 ceiling, R-35 floor. All of the seams were taped both inside and out to minimize any air losses through tiny cracks. Their design was roughly based on Passive House standards, but does not achieve the certification. The home also features triple-paned windows, a heat recovery ventilatory, a heat pump water heater, Energy Star appliances and low-flow fixtures.
The entirely electric home uses only 3,760 kWh annually compared to the average home in the area, which uses 5,930 kWh plus 700 gallons of fuel oil. Annually, electricity costs for the home are only $900, which was achieved through a combination of living modestly in a small house and building a really energy efficient home. The house also holds the record for being the tightest residential building in the world with an ACH rate of 0.05 at 50 pascals. This means that the entire volume of air inside the home leaks out at a rate of once every 20 hrs. The Passive House standard requires an ACH of 0.6. Built for only $159,000, the home is designed and ready for to go off grid as soon as funds are available.
Via Jetson Green
Images ©Kim Donalson