Passivhaus Can Give you Freedom from Bills
With energy bills rising year on year the prospect of living in a house that has none is appealing. In 2014 the average electricity and gas bill cost came to £1,344 annually. This is a considerable amount. Just think what you could do with an extra £1300 a year.
In part the solution to avoiding this ever rising cost may have been answered by a couple living in Plymouth. John Etherington, 57, and his wife Daryl recently completed a self build project using a building technique called Passivhaus.
Passivhaus (Passive House) works by insulating each wall in a home to trap natural heat. We humans give off body heat as does cooking appliances. As the home is so well insulated the building also traps heat from the sun. Passivhaus buildings are fitted with a mechanical ventilation system to help regulate temperature, and to circulate heat around the building if needed. This unit is called a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR). This ensures temperatures are regulated whatever the weather outside the house.
John and Daryl did their research before opting for a passivhaus system. They did not want to use outmoded 17th century technology for their dream home, but wanted to embrace modern, sustainable technologies.
John and Daryl’s home is a two bedroom bungalow and was completed in just eight months. It has an A energy rating and thanks to solar power providing electricity they will pay no more than £99 per year on utility bills.
So Just How Good is a Passivhaus?
Worldwide, 37,000 buildings have been built using this system. They can work in a range of climates with one built in the Antarctica. The passivhaus system may not be able to provide heating in temperatures that fall below zero, but it still greatly reduces the demand on heating systems and subsequently emissions even in extreme temperatures.
With the momentum shifting towards a more sustainable world, passivhaus may provide the answer to a more sustainable housing policy. Imagine the impact if all buildings built throughout the world were constructed to his standard, with solar power built in by design. Last year Great Britain scrapped the zero carbon homes plan. Given the state of climate change this is obviously a massive step backwards. The move was slammed by green and construction organisations alike.
Passivhaus and the speed of delivery maybe what is needed to put zero carbon homes back on the political agenda. The cost of a passivhaus build is around 10-15% higher than a conventional build, but this cost is reducing all the time. Furthermore, this could be reduced further as at the moment in the UK, they are bespoke builds. A new estate for example, would not require each home to be designed on an individual basis and as such cost per home would be reduced.
Right now there are two passivhaus homes in the UK, one in Scotland and the other in Plymouth. John and Daryl seemed very pleased with it, and I’m sure we all would be if we had one.