Renewable homes

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Of the many ways to encourage green power consumption, few are as extreme as those being adopted in Drachten in the northern province of Friesland. Here, ten new houses are to be built which will boast all modern conveniences -- except a connection to the national grid. Instead of mains electricity, householders in the new residential district of Himsterhout will have to use solar and wind energy to meet their energy requirements. Wind energy will be generated by a shared turbine, while the houses' south facing facades will be entirely made up of glass and solar panels, angled in such a way as to catch the maximum amount of sun. Priced at around NLG 300,000 ($152,000) the houses are far from cheap by Dutch standards, particularly in this region, but are expected to cut energy consumption -- and bills -- to less than 25% of the average in other newly built homes.

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