We all do our best to cut down on cooling and heating costs, whether that means bundling up in the winter, investing in insulated curtains for our windows or installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom. No matter how hard we try, however, our utility bills still seem to skyrocket during the hottest and coldest months of the year. This is simply how it works, and many of us have come to accept high electric and energy bills as a fact of life. But what if I told you it didn’t have to be this way? I recently stumbled upon an article about the passive house (PH), which seems to be the solution to our heating and cooling woes.
The passive house isn’t necessarily a house. It’s a building standard with principles designed to lower heating and cooling needs and can be applied to any building, ranging from homes to schools. What makes the passive house so interesting to me is that it doesn’t simply lower utility costs, it drastically reduces energy usage. In fact, passive houses can allow for energy savings of up to 90 percent when compared to typical building stock, according to the Passipedia. This is a huge change and it benefits not only the owner’s wallet, but also the environment.
So what makes the passive house different from your typical home? One big difference is that houses made following the PH standard use only triple-glazed windows. Another is the thickness of the walls. The goal when building a passive house is to create an airtight building—one that won’t let air leak. Along with the triple-glazed windows, the thicker walls of a passive house ensure the space is well insulated.
Passive houses are also a refreshing change thanks to their ability to provide fresh air. The passive house has a central ventilation system that filters outside air to replace the polluted air indoors. This system also has the ability to maintain a consistent temperature, so no matter how cold or warm it is outside, you can enjoy 70-degree temperatures inside the home.
The passive house is so efficient that “it will run on the same amount of power it takes to operate a handheld hair dryer,” states a sign that one couple put up in front of their new passive house home, according to Sandy Keenan’s article The Passive House: Sealed for Freshness. This bold statement demonstrates just how innovative and eco-friendly the passive house concept is, and why it is taking off in countries such as Europe, Germany and the U.S. Although the initial cost can be expensive, the overall savings in the end make the investment well worth it.
The passive house standard is still fairly new in the U.S., but it is starting to grow in popularity. I, for one, am excited to see how this new building standard will make an impact in the future. What about you? Write a comment below to share your thoughts on the passive house!