Energy-Saving HomeA prototype for a new type of zero-energy-consuming house is on display in Los Angeles, and of course it’s very impressive. But you know what I love about it? It’s poofy!

Blah blah blah zero footprint, yadda yadda solar energy. Did I mention it’s poofy?

They also modified an X-Box Kinect so that all you have to do is wave at lights to turn them on and off. It’s like the clapper, but silent.

It’s an award-winning design from students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and it’s actually an amazing design that I wish I could implement today. Here, let me show you around.

This adorable new house is called CHIP, which stands for Compact, Hyper-Insulated Prototype. Since our homes use almost 25 percent of the energy in the U.S., the students were looking for ways that home design could use less energy.

The shape of the house maximizes the amount of space they can devote to solar panels, which is why you lose the peaked roof – a house-shape designed to keep snow from building up, brought to America with European settlers. Who needs a peaked roof in the desert? Nobody, that’s who. A little slant keeps the rain moving downward, and solar panels get all the room they need.

But why the house-cozy? That’s insulation. Putting it on the outside is faster, more effective, and adorable. Plus, it’s vinyl, so it's waterproof -- and think of the colors!

Meanwhile, the inside of the home has more square footage – since the inside of the walls can be exposed – and there are more nooks and crannies for built-in shelves. The water system maximizes rain and gray-water use.

CHIP has its downsides, of course. The interior doesn’t have separate rooms, because an open-air space makes it easier to cool naturally. Such an arrangement would make for quite a bit of awkwardness for families and house guests, so they’d better figure that little glitch out toot sweet.

And then? I’m first in line for the poofy house. In pink!

How do you like the poofy house?


Images courtesy of Darius Siwek for Chip2011.com , used with permission.