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Dale Miller and his wife live in a raised ranch in Colorado’s Bear Creek Valley, where winters are cold and snowy. Yet their house stays comfortable without relying on fossil fuels.

Miller is a senior instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He says when he and his wife built their home 13 years ago, they spent no more than they would’ve on a traditional house.

“I’m a teacher. My wife manages a dental practice. And so we’re regular people. We had to fit it in a construction budget,” he says.

So when they chose where to build, the Millers picked a site with a good southern exposure so that the sun would fill the home with light and warmth.

They made sure the house was tightly insulated. And they installed a solar thermal system that heats water for showers and radiant floor heat.

On bitterly cold days, a wood-burning fireplace provides supplemental heat. And all appliances in the home run on electricity, which is provided by rooftop solar panels.

Miller hopes his home inspires others.

“We wanted to do this in part to show how it could be done, and that one family – one person – could make a real difference,” he says. “And if enough people did this, it will make a big difference. And if even more people did it, it would make all the difference.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media