November 4, 2019
A passive house is a construction standard that is energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and environmentally friend all at the same time.
As we move towards a greener, more sustainable future, we are constantly looking for ways to improve on energy efficiency, decrease greenhouse gasses, and ultimately reduce our carbon footprint.
This is where we introduce a passive house.
A passive home is one that is constructed using a passive design, which takes advantage of the climate to maintain comfortable livability while reducing the need for auxiliary heating or cooling.
To implement a passive home design, it’s important to understand the climate of the area in which you live in.
Your home can then be designed in a way so that it can take advantage of natural heating and cooling, without the aid of artificial devices such as air conditioning or heaters.
In this article we explain the design principles and how you can achieve a passive design.
Design principles and how you can achieve a passive design
1. Thermal mass
Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat and usually includes the use of high density materials such as concrete, bricks and tiles.
Each material type is said to have high thermal mass for its high heat storage capacity and can help save significantly on heating and cooling costs, providing used properly.
Without a passive design expert, the use of these materials can worsen the extremes of climate in your home, radiating heat on a hot summer night, and absorbing all the heat produced on a winter night.
In order for thermal mass to be effective, it must be integrated with good passive design techniques that are suited to your climate. Good use of thermal mass will moderate indoor temperatures by averaging day and night temperature extremes.
We often lose a lot of heating through our windows, with the glazing alone responsible for up to 40% heat loss.
It can also contribute to the heat gained in the warmer months of around 87%, reducing your ability to effectively control the temperature of your home and putting strain on your AC/heater.
To overcome this issue, you’ll need to consider the size and glazing of each window to allow the correct amount of solar radiation to penetrate during winter and block just enough during summer.
Consider low emissive, double or triple glazed windows that have been thermally tested.
3. Seal your home
Ensuring your home is airtight is one of the simplest ways to increase comfort, reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, this also include your garage space.
Air leakage accounts for 15-25% loss of winter heat and can contribute to significant loss of cooling in hotter climates where air conditioners are used.
Sealing your home is highly beneficial for those who are subjected to more extreme climates from both ends of the spectrum, with the exception of naturally ventilated homes in tropical areas.
However, you’ll need to be mindful of condensation and indoor air quality issues when sealing your home and increasing insulation levels.
Insulation helps regulate the temperature in your home by keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. It also helps weatherproof and soundproof your home.
A well insulated home can provide comfort all year round, reduce cooling and heating costs by up to 50%, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is important to remember that climatic conditions play a huge role in determining the appropriate levels of insulation required, as well as the most appropriate type, whether bulk, reflective or composite.
The orientation of your home refers to the way your home is constructed to take advantage of summer and winter variations, such as the sun’s path and types of winds.
For example, a passive designed home will ideally face as close to north as possible to allow for maximum sun exposure, easy shading of walls and windows in summer.
A home correctly orientated home will reduce the need for auxiliary heating and cooling devices, and improves solar generation. In turn, your home becomes more comfortable to live in while being cheaper to run.
What do I need to do for a passive home?
There is a performance criteria implemented to ensure the design of a passive home meets the minimum requirement of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. The criteria includes annual space heating, cooling, airtightness, indoor air quality, comfortability, and primary energy.
Certain types of materials and components must be used in order to achieve a certified passive home, which can include:
- Adequate and consistent insulation
- Foam-wrapped building envelope to reduce air leakage
- Tankless on-demand water heater
- Double glazed 6-star energy rating windows
- Solar hot water system
- Ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs to reduce energy usage
- Heat recovery ventilator to improve indoor air quality
- Thermal bridge free connections
As Australians we are fortunate to experience all four seasons every year, from raging hot 40 degree days, to minus 3 mornings, this is why it’s so important to consider a passive designed home.
If you’re looking to make some changes to your home and need some advice on how your flooring could contribute towards a passive home, contact the flooring experts at Jupps Floor Coverings, Perth.