3 cool things about a home with no furnace

The builders of a northwest Calgary home say it uses 90 per cent less energy than a regular build, thanks to massively insulated walls and windows — just some of the many tricks of the eco-home trade.

Calgary passive house a testing lab for latest high-tech home energy challenges

Calgary passive house 1:44

It's like a home-in-a-box that Ikea might sell if Ikea sold homes.

The builders of a northwest Calgary home say it uses 90 per cent less energy than a regular build thanks to massively insulated walls and windows — just some of the many tricks of the eco-home trade.

Here's three cool things about the Symons Gate passive house that doesn't have a furnace:

The builders of a northwest Calgary home say it uses 90 per cent less energy than a regular build. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

1. It's like a home in a box

"This house we actually ordered from Germany, believe it or not," Brookfield Residential's Doug Owens said.

"We designed it in Canada and it was prefabricated in Germany. So we poured a foundation, and the walls, roof, floors and everything are built out of [cross-laminated timber] and arrive with screws, gaskets and everything else we needed — and it was put up over the course of about two days."

Owens says the walls are about 250 per cent better than required by building codes and the windows are about 300 per cent better.

Doug Owens of Brookfield Residential says light bulbs, appliances and even body heat can help keep this home warm. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

2. It's wrapped in a blanket of insulation

"We insulate on the exterior of the home to provide a thermal break or a blanket, a thermal blanket around the whole house. And this is wood fibreboard, which is made out of the offcuts of this material here, so 100 per cent recyclable, 100 per cent renewable and sucks up a ton of carbon."

Those choices made the home extremely quiet inside as well, he said.

This tool measures the heat associated with the sunlight coming through the windows in this northwest Calgary passive house. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

3. Furnace? What furnace?

"There is such a low energy load that we can actually rely on the sun to heat it," Owens said.

"So this window that we are standing in front of is actually the furnace for the home or essentially the furnace for the home. It provides most of the heating along with our body heat, the light bulbs and the appliances. The line that is often used is, heat it with a hair dryer and cool it with an ice cube."

The Symons Gate property is about 2,500 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths. But it's more of a technology testing lab than a template for future builds as this project came in just under $1 million.

The windows are 300 per cent better than building codes require and the walls are 250 per cent better, the builder says. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

With files from Monty Kruger.