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Building a Net-Zero House? 'Only a Masochist Could Enjoy it'

By most measures, the sustainable house built by retired couple Dotty Kyle and Eric Brattstrom in Warren, Vermont is a success. Designed to produce more energy than it uses, the 5,000-square-foot home is a marvel of green construction, with super-insulating walls, both photovoltaic and solar hot-water collectors, and a fireplace connected to ductwork that distributes heat throughout the house. In seven years, its owners have never once paid for electricity, even though their property has luxuries like a hydraulic elevator and an indoor pool. But there's a hitch: it turns out this very virtuous house is quite a burden for the 78-year-old couple, as it has 56 insulating interior shades that must be raised daily, a boiler that runs off of wood pellets, and solar panels that must constantly be swept of snow and ice. "I was an idiot and built a house that was way too complicated and labor-intensive," Brattstrom, a former geologist and construction manager, told the New York Times. "Only a masochist could enjoy it."

· Exhausted by a House That Saves Energy [NYT]