Passive Houses Are Popping Up In TorontoBuild Simple
What exactly is a “Passive House” and how will it save you money? Simply put, a passive house is an incredibly energy-efficient and eco-friendly home construction method that has been growing in popularity in Europe and is now spreading across North America. Originating from Germany (Passivhaus), these homes are modern, comfortable, affordable, ecological and offer everything you could want in a new build with an extra emphasis on cost savings via energy efficiency.
One of the biggest appeals of a passive house, beyond the constant comfortable temperatures, is the huge savings homeowners realize via their energy bills. Passive houses provide savings for both heating and cooling of over 90% on older homes and 75% on the average new build.
A Passive house build uses less than 1.5 litres of heating oil per square metre of living space per year. This is because they are able to conserve heat from natural sources such as body heat and heat from the sun. They also use innovative insulation solutions: Passive houses have certified three pane windows that are 50% more efficient than standard two-pane windows.
Here at Build Simple, we recently completed a passive house project at 41 Northcote in Toronto Ontario, Canada. We had an energy efficient evaluation done from EnerGuide, Canada’s independent 3rd party home efficiency auditor, and this home received an extremely low rating of 19 GJ, whereas newer builds typically receive an average rating of 125 GJ for the same square footage. What this means in terms of costs savings can be a bit confusing for the average consumer, but according to EnerGuide, a home with a GJ rating of 19 will only cost approximately $400 per year for energy purposes. The cost to heat/cool a standard home comes in at approximately $2,500 per year.
One of the ways we achieved this outstanding efficiency rating is by utilizing extremely well insulated walls. We used an insulation value of R52, the air-tightness of the building and the 3-pane windows & doors contribute to the high efficiency rating mentioned above. The standard air leakage rate for new homes in Canada is 0.5 cfm/feet squared. The Passive house at 41 Northcote boats an air leakage rate of just 0.049 cfm/feet squared. A measurable difference of 10x more efficient than “the standard.”
Although not contributing to the overall energy efficiency rating, this Passive house also consists of Panasonic Net Metering Solar Panels. These panels store energy in a 10kWh battery that can be used up to three days. A nice addition for the purposes of incorporating both a renewable resource and be more environmentally friendly.
Passive houses don’t just keep the heat in through the winter – though that’s obviously important in a city where temperatures can dip below -30 degrees Celsius, and they will keep your home warm and comfortable when the cold weather hits – but they also help cool the home in warm climates. Passive houses utilize unmatched heating and cooling systems to achieve the lowest energy consumption possible. Resulting in both cost savings but a reduced carbon footprint.
If you’re thinking that all that trapped air will turn your home into a stuffy, bacteria-infested Petri dish – Think again. A ventilation system consistently supplies fresh air to the home to give it the highest air quality without the risk of drafts or nasty allergens allowing your family to breath the cleanest and freshest air possible.
The best part of passive homes is that all this efficiency comes at absolutely no aesthetic cost. As I’m sure you’ll agree if you look at the photos below, our recent build at 41 Northcote is a beautiful, modern, fully-detached home that has plenty of light and space for city living, both inside and out. Its efficiency and small global footprint is not obvious at first glance and we feel there is absolutely no compromise when it comes to making a passive house look like a dream home.
With energy costs constantly rising and with more people being conscience of their carbon footprint, passive houses are the future of modern living. They are only going to grow in popularity as more and more people look for ways to save money while still doing their part for the environment.
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