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State Energy Secretary Lives In 'Passive' Home, Designed To Maximize Efficiency

SHREWSBURY (CBS) -- The state secretary of energy and environmental affairs lives in a pretty normal looking home in Shrewsbury, but when you look a little closer, it's not your typical house.

Matthew Beaton lives in the Commonwealth's first "passive house," a type of home designed for maximum energy efficiency while keeping comfort a priority. To optimize efficiency, Beaton's 3,700 square-foot home features extra thick walls to keep the temperature inside just right.

"The walls are about 23-inches thick, it's a two-stage wall," Beaton said. "There's a 14-inch TJI vertical that is just like a big pocket for us to have insulation. An air break, and then a two by six wall framed, and it's all filled with dense-pack cellulose insulation."

These features, along with others like southern-exposure windows, help the home stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

"The whole concept of passive design housing is to be able to build a home that is comfortable to live in, that is healthy to live in and that maximizes energy efficiency," Beaton said.

In addition to the insulation measures, the home features stones found in the yard for the walkway and reclaimed brick, reducing its overall environmental impact - and the energy bills. The cost to keep Beaton's home comfortable?

"$50 a year."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker reports

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