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What’s the latest in well-designed, energy-efficient solar homes? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has invited teams from colleges across the country to design and build solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The model houses designed by 15 collegiate teams will be on display and open for public tours this October in Irvine, California, where the DOE’s seventh Solar Decathlon will be taking place. In addition to functioning as comfortable homes — each must produce plenty of hot water, for example, and have working appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertaining — the houses must produce at least as much energy as they consume. This year’s competition will, for the first time, also emphasize affordability. To earn the highest marks, each team is aiming to build a home that costs less than $250,000.