Top 5 Principles of Passive House Design

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Would you like a home that feels warm and cozy all winter even without operating your heaters? How about a home that naturally stays cool in the summer? These are the biggest features of a Passive House that attracts a lot of homeowners. These happen because a passive house makes use of an airtight building envelope, insulation, and high-performance glazing to regulate the home’s internal environment without depending so much on artificial heating and cooling.

People want to live in this kind of house because it’s cheaper to run and the financial payoff can be substantial in the long run.

While the world sees the Passive House as a whole new way of housing and living, these are still a normal structure. The thing that sets passive houses apart are their key design and construction components.

In this article, I asked Superdraft to explain these five principles. Understanding these will be an advantage in case you plan to build one in the future. Here’s how it all works…

The Top 5 Principles of a Passive House

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1. Build a highly-efficient and well-insulated building envelope

The first principle is to have the right and adequate insulation to minimize unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Insulation is a material you lay in the walls, floor and ceiling to ensure comfort and energy-efficiency.

Normally, the builder chooses the insulation based on the design, and location (climate zone) of your home.

2. Use high-quality windows and doors

An average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks around windows and doors. It is recommended to insulate windows frames and fit them with double glazed or low-emissivity glass to avoid unwanted heat gain and lose. When you don’t invest in good windows, you will consume more energy to warm and heat your home.

3. Get rid of thermal bridges

Thermal bridges are parts of the house where heat transfer is faster than the rest of the house. When the house experiences a cold climate, heat will be lost through the thermal bridge. In hot climates, a thermal bridge will allow unwanted heat to pass through the building envelope and into the building.

A passive house must be free from thermal bridges. Eliminate these thermal bridges through proper insulation.

4. Keep your home airtight

Make sure your building envelope is airtight to avoid leaks. Ensure that every joint is perfectly sealed and there are no gaps where air can seep in and out.

An airtight and well-insulated building will successfully retain any warmth or coolness generated within, which is why passive houses require little energy to heat or cool.

5. Install a Heat Recovery Ventilation system

The enemy of an airtight structure is stale air. A heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system will direct the flow of air in and out of a passive house. The HRV system is the final principle that completes a passive house. It extracts the stale air and moisture from inside the house through the ducts. Before it’s exhausted out of the house, the stale air passes through a heat exchanger, where it transfers the heat to the fresh air.

Because of the HRV system, your home will always have a constant supply of fresh, temperature-controlled, filtered air. It improves your home’s overall indoor air quality. It prevents your house from getting stuffy. More importantly, it stops condensation and mold growth inside the house.

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Passive houses are among the most energy efficient homes that can be built.  Rather than paying expensive bills to heat and cool your home, if you use passive house principles and technologies, your house will remain comfortable, be self-heating and cooling and take care of you rather than the other way around.

The specifics of these principles vary from country to country because passive houses are built to fit the location’s climate zones. The efficiency of a passive house also depends on how established it is in the country and if the high-performance components and building materials are available.

To learn more about making your home more sustainable and energy efficient or for assistance in designing and building your own passive house, check out the team of architects at Superdraft in Australia.  Click here to visit their website.