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A Wisconsin Usonian Home: 37 Years of Energy History

July/August 2009
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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July 01, 2009
Not your average homeowners - this couple has kept energy use data for 37 years.
In 1970, my wife, Ankie, and I bought a home in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was a young faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was designed and built in 1950 by the well-known architect Herbert Fritz, Jr., a longtime colleague and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. With its many large windows, its nature-friendly design took advantage of beautiful vistas of oak savannahs and the rolling Wisconsin landscape. We chose this house partly for its wooded surroundings, stunning views, and abundance of natural light. However, during our first winter we discovered a great problem. The floor-to-ceiling single-pane windows were repeatedly covered with a 1/8-inch-thick sheet of ice—on the inside—that would melt into puddles in the living room and loft. Comfort considerations, energy bills, and the need to preserve the house’s structural and decorative materials all compelled us to address that problem—right away! Fortunately, my own academic career was undergoing a transformation from engineering physics into the field of energy systems and policy analysis. I was becoming increasingly involved in state and national issues of energy and environmental policy and planning. Energy efficiency and management was becoming a key part of this policy, nationally ...

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