I'm a building energy consultant in central Wisconsin. I recently had a chance to perform a major energy retrofit on a modest ranch-style house just south of Lacrosse, Wis. It was a simple two-bedroom home that was probably built shortly after World War II. Such homes are quite common around here; I've heard them called "farmer's widow" houses because they're too small for a typical family. The original house covered just 700 square feet, and a 1970s-era addition off the back provided an additional 500 square feet. The basement, used mostly for storage, added another 950 square feet of conditioned...

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