by Greg and Barbara Whitchurch, Passive House Alliance, Vermont Chapter
Did you know you can build a cheaper, more comfortable, healthier and safer home that will save 90% of typical home energy costs? Passive House (PH) – not to be confused with passive solar – is a construction method that uses air sealing, super-insulation, sunward positioning of windows, and efficient air exchange. There are tens of thousands of PHs around the world, including a few homes right here in Vermont. And, there is a technique called “EnerPHit” that can achieve a PH-level retrofit to an existing building.
We just built one for our parents and it has no furnace, heated floor, etc. It is heated with the waste heat from their appliances, cooking, bathing, TVs and computers, even their own body heat. For those really cold snaps they could use a hair dryer; but just baking a cake or having guests over can give off enough heat to keep them cozy for days of sub-zero temps without sunshine. (In fact, a tiny supplemental heater is part of the fresh air system.)
Furthermore, by using the Passive House (PH) standard you can realize the home of your dreams for a lot less money.
You can future-proof your home from the primary financial threat you face in the long term: energy prices. Right now there are many people facing a bleak financial situation because the house they built – or bought – many years ago is now costing them five to ten times as much to heat as it once did. Homeowners know what their mortgage payments are going to be over the long run, but what about the cost of the energy it takes to live in that home?
By using Passive House principles, regardless of the style of home you want, you can cut typical energy costs by 90%. For example, if you now pay a total of $3,500 per year for electric, gas and oil, you’d instead pay $350, or $12 per month, just by employing the Passive House standard in your building (or remodeling) plans. Whether or not you care about the quality of the air you breathe outside, the political and human costs of oil dependence, or the long term effects of pollution on weather patterns, your ability to afford to stay in your home for as long as you wish is likely to be very important to you.
We’re offering a symposium for homeowners, builders, architects, town planners and suppliers. So come with us and explore the latest technology in building design and retrofitting, discover how banks treat PH projects, rub elbows with experts in the field and see the latest products.
Come to the Second Annual Passive House Symposium on Thursday, Oct. 2 at Vermont Technical College, Randolph. For more information or to register, go to www.PHAUSVT.org.