Sunny House; Happy Life

by Frederique Laprise on Novembre 9, 2017 - 3:05pm

Sunny House; Happy Life

The popularity of cost effective green houses have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. The concept of net zero homes has risen, and suddenly possibilities of clean energy use became available to almost everyone. One of these possibilities that has become especially popular is passive heating. A simple concept of heating your house with windows has taken us aback because of Quebec’s high potential for this technology, through its costs, benefits, and the way it works.

The costs of passive heating

The best way to save money with passive heating is by taking advantage of your environment. The construction cost may be around 10% higher to get a house built to the Passive House standard, but the heating and cooling costs will be around 40%-90% less than a traditional home with electric heating and cooling.

The reason why the construction cost is higher is that a passive heating house uses building envelopes that are airtight and very insulated. To achieve this layers upon layers are added to the walls. Also, to have a functioning passive heating system there needs to be high-performance windows and doors that will not let energy in or out.  It is important to note that the cost of a passive building will vary by square footage, climate, finishes, and design complexities. The only restraint for the builder is to make sure most windows are facing south and that the house is well insulated, to avoid energy loss.

It is important to see a passive house as an investment. As the construction cost is higher than a non-passive house, you will be saving a lot of money in the long run. Having a passive house also reduces insurance costs as insurance companies are aware of the benefits of a passive heating, and the lower risks profile of the house. In fact, passive heating uses very little machinery, which is why it has a lower risk profile than traditional houses.

Other Benefits of Passive Heating

Furthermore, not only will passive heating significantly lower your fuel bills  because of the reduced energy consumption, but it will also ensure more comfort due to the absence of draughts, cold spots and excessive overheating while providing a constant supply of fresh and clean air. Indoor comfort is quite important because humans spend 90% of their time indoors.

Moreover, passive heating can also improve your overall health. In a traditionally heated home, a forced-air furnace wrings humidity from the air, leaving it dry enough to irritate mucous membranes and encourage virus propagation. On the other hand, the natural heating in a passive solar system does not dry out the air, reducing allergic reactions and sinusitis and maintaining a healthy moisture balance.

Passive solar also has benefits on the environment. Reducing our dependency on traditionally generated electricity will reduce our carbon footprint. Contrary to wind and hydroelectric power, passive solar heating does not produce any pollutants, emissions, and harmful fumes, and has minimal environmental impact.

Here is how some passive solar heating systems can work in a house.

What is a Passive Solar Building?

Passive solar building has specific characteristics. One of the major one is that the building has to be facing south in order to be exposed to sunlight from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. Some might think this renewable source can only be used for heating, well they are wrong. Passive solar can be used not only as a heating source, but also as a cooling one.

A building can be designed in three ways for heating; direct, indirect and isolated, which are all solar passive. The direct way is a direct absorption of the sunlight. When the sunlight comes in from the south-facing window, thermal mass materials as masonry floor and walls will absorb the heat and will release it when the room cools down. The indirect way is by an intermediate wall between the south-facing window and the interior of the house. The heat from the sunlight will be absorbed by the intermediate wall and afterward redistributed to the living area. It is said that heat travels an inch per hour. Therefore, for an 8 inch wall, the heat will be migrated to the interior by 8 P.M. The isolated design is in a separated room from the living space, where heat is retained and will be redistributed in the main living spaces by the shared wall of the two rooms, or by ventilation. The separated room is well know to be a sunroom, which provides heat, as well as a place to grow plants, and a potential living space.

For summer days, awnings and shutters will help lower the amount of heat absorbed by thermal mass materials. Also, using thermal chimneys help to reduce indoor heat.

Having the chance of being perfect candidates for passive heating because of our climate is another reason why we should switch to this method of heating. It has many different benefits, is cost friendly, and is beautifully engineered. Continuing to build houses with our current heating systems would be irrational when we have the opportunity to use passive heating, which is environment friendly. When will you switch to passive heating?