I recently retired after 30 years as a residential contractor. My wife and I now live in a new home I built in Colorado. It's high in the mountains (elevation: 10,000 feet; heating degree days: 8,500) and has 2,000 square feet of conditioned space heated by a radiant-floor heating system.

The author's Colorado home has 2,000 square feet of conditioned space. His combined average costs for heat and hot water are only $20 per month, a figure he credits to tight construction, programmed thermostats, and the efficiency of his tankless water heater.

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