A Wisconsin Usonian Home: 37 Years of Energy History

July/August 2009
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2009 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about Retrofit
July 01, 2009
Not your average homeowners - this couple has kept energy use data for 37 years.
In 1970, my wife, Ankie, and I bought a home in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was a young faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was designed and built in 1950 by the well-known architect Herbert Fritz, Jr., a longtime colleague and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. With its many large windows, its nature-friendly design took advantage of beautiful vistas of oak savannahs and the rolling Wisconsin landscape. We chose this house partly for its wooded surroundings, stunning views, and abundance of natural light. However, during our first winter we discovered a great problem. The floor-to-ceiling single-pane windows were repeatedly covered with a 1/8-inch-thick sheet of ice—on the inside—that would melt into puddles in the living room and loft. Comfort considerations, energy bills, and the need to preserve the house’s structural and decorative materials all compelled us to address that problem—right away! Fortunately, my own academic career was undergoing a transformation from engineering physics into the field of energy systems and policy analysis. I was becoming increasingly involved in state and national issues of energy and environmental policy and planning. Energy efficiency and management was becoming a key part of this policy, nationally ...

To read complete online articles, you need to sign up for an Online Subscription.

Once an order has been placed there is an automatic $10 processing fee that will be deducted with any cancellation.

The Home Energy Online articles are for personal use only and may not be printed for distribution. For permission to reprint, please send an e-mail to

Email Newsletter

Home Energy E-Newsletter

Sign up for our free monthly