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Here's a look behind the power of a Solar House in San Antonio

A group of students designed a fully-functional solar house that powers a range of appliances, with the help of 35 solar panels.

SAN ANTONIO — As inflation causes mortgages to rise, so does the cost of energy such as electricity. But what if a house was completely self-sustainable? 

That was the idea that motivated a group of forward-thinking engineering students at the University of the Incarnate Word, who 14 years ago began designing a Solar House. Today, the structure is fully functional, feeding off the sun's power. 

At 768 square feet, the house is the size of a large apartment, and features 35 solar panels which produce 7.5 kilowatts of energy in optimal sunny conditions. The panels power everything in the home, including lights, fans, AC, stove, water heater, bathroom, refrigerator and oven. 

UIW's unique structure has even received recognition from outside the city. Solar House also was awarded a LEED Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council after it scored 90 points, according to Daniel Potter, Solar House project manager. 

The high score was based on the materials used to build the house, the amount of maintenance needed and appliance waste comparable to a regular home. 

Potter said the goal budget for the house was $150,000 when constructed several years ago. While this might seem a high price for a small space, Potter says "you're paying a little more now for more energy efficiency, more water efficiency. Energy is getting more expensive so it's only going to save you money in the long-term."

The house is available for tours, preferably scheduled since there are classes of all grade levels held at the house. Those interested can email dpotter@uiwtx.edu. 

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