How Does it Feel?
So what to write and where to start when something really is just great… what would I want to know if I were thinking of moving into a Passivhaus?
First of all, how it feels. It’s a hard thing to describe, but to me (and as testified by lots of our visitors) the house just feels good to be in. Comfortable. Calm. Safe. Relaxed. Quiet. Positive. Good. I think this is down to the combination of factors that make it a Passivhaus. Air-tightness, insulation, and natural light.
One thing that is amazing – no drafts! Just a constant, comfortable temperature. The best way I can explain the benefit is to start by getting you to think of your ‘normal’ house in the winter. Around October time the weather temperature starts to cool down and you put the heating on. Not in a Passivhaus. There really are no drafts or cold spots around the windows and doors, there are no cool rooms because you’ve turned the radiators off to save fuel costs. It is a steady and constant temperature of 21°C. Everywhere. Older relatives who visit have reported that they don’t get cold in the same way as they might sitting for longer periods in a ‘normal’ house because of the lack of drafts. It is a subtle thing, but it makes a real difference to the environment in the house.
Another bonus is that you don’t have a noisy gas boiler kicking in and out and you don’t have hefty fuel bills or arguments over the thermostat and who pressed the boost button again. We do have some heating in our Passivhaus, but it is limited to electric underfloor heating and towel rails in the bathrooms, plus a 1 kilowatt heating coil (1/3 of a typical kettle element) in our Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) unit. The towel rails and underfloor heating are really just for drying towels and warming the tiled floor in the bathrooms. The only heating we use during the coldest 3 months of the year is the MVHR heating coil which is connected to a conventional thermostat. I will explain more on the MVHR in another blog as this is what provides most of our space heating (if we need any) and assists with fresh air and cooling in the house.
What About Energy Bills?
We don’t have gas and averaged across the year our general electricity bill is approximately £100 a month for a 4 bedroom house. The MVHR post heater costs approximately £60 a year to run (£20/month during the coldest 3 months in winter). We are on an Economy 7 energy plan which gives us cheaper electricity at night. This is when we use electric power to heat our hot water tank and run our washing machine and dishwasher. Oh, and we don’t have a tumble drier as you don’t need one. Washing dries well in a Passivhaus, even in the winter. Better for the environment and better for your bank account. At the moment we get our electricity from a renewable energy supplier, but one day we plan to install some PV panels which means we will be able to generate our own power to be relatively self-sufficient and even more low carbon.
By Emma Butler