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Enveloping a house with a greenhouse helps this Swedish family cut down on heating costs

It’s going to be in the mid-30s Fahrenheit this weekend in Stockholm, but Swedish couple Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto should be relatively warm in their house, as long as there’s a bit of sun. Their entire home is encased by a greenhouse that helps protect the interior building from rain, wind, and cold.

“The greenhouse is the big thing here,” Granmar explains in a video by Kirsten Dirksen.  “To save your own energy and energy from the sun, to use that heat in a natural way.” The idea to create this glass “bubble” around the house comes from architect Bengt Warne, who designed and built what he called a Naturhus before his death in 2006. While the greenhouse doesn’t replace the need for more traditional methods of heating, it does cut down on the months when a secondary heat source is necessary, says Granmar. Whereas typically Swedes turn on the heater starting at the end of September and keep it on through May, the greenhouse house can wait until mid-October and shut it off in April.

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The greenhouse isn’t just a wind-and-rain shield, though. It also lets the family grow their own tomatoes, cucumbers, and grapes. They even have a fig tree, which wouldn’t likely survive outside the walls of the greenhouse. The house is sustainable in other ways, too. They use a combination of collected rainwater and graywater for the plants. The couple hopes to look into ways to store the solar energy they’re wasting right now as well.

The house is located in an area normally reserved for summer homes. It’s not a place Stockholm citizens normally spend the winter, but that’s part of the appeal of the family’s lifestyle. “If you want to be independent and not rely on bigger systems, you can live anywhere you like,” says Granmar.