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Mini Bungalow With Estimated $100-Per-Year Electric Bill in Seattle

An exterior view of the energy-efficient modular residence, also known as the "Mini-B," in the lower parking lot of Phinney Neighborhood Association Center. The house will be there for a few months.

A 300-square-foot mini-bungalow with an estimated $100-a-year electric bill is on display at Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center.

via Local News | Seattle Times Newspaper.

An exterior view of the energy-efficient modular residence, also known as the “Mini-B,” in the lower parking lot of Phinney Neighborhood Association Center. The house will be there for a few months. 

It’s tiny and so energy efficient, the estimated cost for electricity is just $100 a year.

For the next few months, the Miniature Bungalow (Mini-B) — one of the first “passive” houses in the state — will sit in the parking lot of Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center as an example of construction so efficient it uses only 15 percent of the energy needed for a conventionally built house, says the architect and designer, Joseph Giampietro.

Passive homes, designed to require little fossil fuel for heating or cooling, were created by two professors, one from Sweden and one from Germany, in 1988.

Saturday was the open house for the 300-square-foot Mini-B, which Seattle Central Community College carpentry students built on the South Seattle college campus and shipped to Phinney Ridge by truck. Architects, students and others interested in building green milled through the bright-green house with vaulted ceilings, admiring how after a year of work, the house was a reality.

“I like to do real projects with the students,” said Frank Mestemacher, carpentry instructor at Seattle Central, who stood outside with some of his students. Other classes have done Habitat for Humanity homes, and a church office building is in the future.

There is no charge for the students’ labor.

“The students get all this experience,” Mestemacher said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

“There were so many angles, and matching everything was like a puzzle,” said Pedro Leal, 30, one of the students who came to see the final house all decorated. “It was a great learning experience.”

Giampietro provided most of the materials for the house, which he designed to Seattle’s building code for backyard cottages. The house is small enough to replace one-car garages, he said.

He’ll auction off the house in a few months and expects it to sell for $60,000 to $80,000.

Although the Mini-B is small, the high ceilings make it seem larger. There’s a loft for sleeping, a sitting area, a bar for dining, a small under-counter refrigerator, a two-burner stove and a bathroom with a shower. Perfect, says Giampietro, for a vacation cabin or a backyard cottage for a guest — anyone without a lot of storage needs.

The Mini-B has walls insulated with 9-inch Styrofoam and blown-in fiberglass.

The house has a solar heating system but is so airtight that warming it can almost be done with the occupant’s own body heat, Giampietro says.

He estimates there are about 12 similar houses under way in the Seattle area.

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