While passively heating one’s house with solar energy has been a concept that has existed since the beginning of time, certified modern Passive Houses are a concept that came to life in Germany and Sweden in the late 80’s.

The original goal of this method of home design is to create buildings that no longer need central heating systems, specifically for northern, cold climates. While this may seem to be a totally unrealistic goal for the average Canadian, a home that is certified as a Passivhaus typically results in a 90% decrease of energy required to heat a conventional house.

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This is achieved by optimizing the building shell until the conventional heating system is no longer required. The small amount of heating energy which is still needed can then be supplied via the ventilation air stream.

Passive houses however, are reported to be about 5% to 10% more expensive to construct than conventional buildings. This upfront cost can be recouped to a large extent through the massive decrease in heating and cooling costs for your home.

Passive House Cost Savings diagram by Brett Sichello Design

Passive House Cost Savings diagram by Brett Sichello Design

The features that help a Passive Home reduce energy footprint are:

  • super insulation
  • energy efficient windows, shade considerations
  • air-tightness (no drafts or hot or cold spots)
  • heat recovery ventilators (these eliminate the need for conventional heating systems)
  • sustainable and regenerative hot water supply
  • fixtures that are energy saving (lighting, appliances)
  • solar and landscape considerations

Do you have any experience building or living in a passive house? Let us know, we’d love to hear about it.

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Posted by Leslie Andrachuk