Passive Homes are on the rise in Australia, which is no surprise as people are moving towards a greener, more energy-efficient future. Within this blog, we will bring to light what a ‘Passive Home’ is and the methods you can implement to make your new home more energy-efficient.
What Is A ‘Passive House?’
A ‘Passive House’ is a design that utilises the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the home. Hence, the principle of a good passive design is to effectively ‘locks in’ thermal comfort and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for the life span of your home. – (YourHome)
5 main principles for a Passive Home:
To ensure your home can effectively keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter, there must be appropriate insulation. Specifically, this insulation is to be installed in the walls, ceiling and (if possible) the flooring.
2. Uncontrolled Air Leakage
Airtightness is an important element in the construction of a Passive Home, as Air leakage accounts for 15-25% of winter heat loss. Therefore, this feature helps to keep heat out or in when needed, (as well as unwanted creepy crawlies.)
Your windows impact your home’s heat loss and gain significantly!
A Passive House window will transfer only one-sixth of heat in comparison to a typical Australian window. For example, using low-emissivity double glazing and thermally broken or nonmetal frames is beneficial. Of course, these are to be high quality insulated frames that can be sealed tightly.
4. No thermal bridges
What is a thermal bridge you ask?
Well, it is a physical pathway from inside to outside of the building, through which heat can move easily. For instance, this can be the result of poor window quality, concrete slab edges that are uninsulated and steel framed buildings. Furthermore, eliminating thermal bridges can reduce condensation and improve the overall comfort of the home.
5. Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation (MHRV)
The Purpose of an MHRV system is to create fresh, regulated air into the property with only a low amount of energy. To explain, this system will retrieve filtered air from outside and replaces stale air from inside, without the two streams mixing.
Finally, to consider your house a certified ‘Passive Home,’ there is a requirement for a Passive House Certifier to assess the project in the early stages. Once construction is completed, the property is further assessed, and a Quality Assured Passive House Certificate will be issued.
If you are just looking for some energy-efficient options or a passive inspired home, that is great too! By adding just a few of the suggestions above will make a major impact on the comfort and efficiency of your home.
For further information on Passive home requirements and ratings to consider, we suggest reviewing the list below:
NatHERS – Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme
WERS– Window Energy Rating Scheme
WELS – Water Efficiency Star Rating
APHA – Australian Passive House Association
YourHome – Australian Government
Tips to making your home more efficient:
Adding low energy ceiling fans to your living and sleeping areas is one of the cheapest cooling options, with low greenhouse impact.
Shading is also an option to consider maximizing the thermal comfort of your home. For instance, when adding Eaves, window awnings, shutters, or a pergola to your home, these can work as a barrier from the heat of direct sunlight reaching into your home.
It is important that the shading options are installed correctly, so they do not block the winter sun or natural light from entering the home. We need that too! This can be a fixed or adjustable shading option.
During the early stages of your home design process, it is beneficial to consider the orientation. In summary, facing the North is most desirable for Australian homes. In other words, positioning high traffic areas towards the north-facing sun can reduce the need for extra heating and maximizes the site’s potential.
Apart from looking great, a skylight comes with a lot of benefits!
As an excellent source of natural light, they can emit over three times as much light as a vertical window, saving energy and reducing the artificial light required for that area.
When selecting materials for your new home it is important to select options with low environmental impact. Here are some of the questions to think about when choosing materials:
Are these materials harvested without threat to species or local communities?
Is a large amount of energy required in the manufacturing process?
Therefore, with these questions in mind, it is ideal to consider recycled and ecologically-friendly materials such as:
- Engineered lumber
- Eco-flooring and cabinets
- Solar-power System
- Drought Tolerant Landscaping
- Recycled decking materials
- Energy-saving light bulbs
- Water-conserving Plumbing
- Solar Hot Water Systems
So, if you believe building a Passive home is for you, we will help you every step of the way!
For further information, view our Passive Home Builder Page on how ATN Constructions can create your dream Passive Home.