What Makes Passive Houses Energy Efficient?

By   November 5, 2016

Wouldn’t you like to own a home that is the ultimate and beyond in energy efficiency? Passive houses just may be the answer for you. While you may currently live in a home that is Energy Star rated, passive houses are way ahead regarding energy saving and a smaller footprint. They have in many ways, raised the bar when it comes to being green.

For instance, where an Energy Star house is up to 30% more efficient than the typical house, passive houses use almost 70 percent less energy. Yes, there are aspects of higher costs to build, such as the super-efficient windows, but the ROI is bigger too.

Where passive solar focus on capturing the sun’s heat, passive houses focus on being completely airtight, and highly insulated. They also improve the indoor air quality for the home as well. A few facts and features about passive houses to consider:

Air Infiltration Reduced

Air will leak through most houses in a number of places. Areas like the basement, the ceiling, the floors, and the walls all have gaps, even the slightest gab, where air can leak in or out. Passive houses have reduced air infiltration which increases their durability because moisture can’t travel in the form of humidity and infiltrate the home’s cavities.

Super Insulation

A site-built home loses warmth in the winter because the insulation is insufficient. Passive houses use a thick insulation that is properly installed in the ceiling and wall assemblies.

Thermal Bridging Eliminated

Conventional insulation will slow heat movement between the joists and studs. However, in the rest of the house heat can pass through the areas that aren’t insulated. This is known as thermal bridging. Thermal bridging is minimized in passive houses by insulating under the interior concrete slabs and use exterior rigid foam along with double wall framing.

High-Performance Doors and Windows

High-performance doors and windows have a higher cost during the construction phase. But the payoff will come with each month’s utility bills. Commonly, either heat mirror technology or triple-pane windows are required to meet passive housing standards, but in more moderate climates, double-pane windows are considered sufficient.

Balanced Ventilation Systems

For passive houses, the last but most critical element is high-efficiency heat exchange with balanced mechanical ventilation. This will provide you and your family clean, fresh air.  Passive houses recycle the internal heat a house has. This includes body heat from humans, the dog, and things like appliances, computers and even the light bulbs. With the super-tight shell that passive houses have, there is 95% efficient ventilation system by using heat pumps, electric baseboard heaters, and solar thermal systems.