Inside Our Passive House – Part One

As promised, here is my first post regarding our experiences living in a passive house. I’m sure most of you are more curious about the technical aspect of the house rather than the interior design, so this post is solely dedicated for that.

Our initial expectation of decreased heater usage was indeed met during our first 2 weeks here.
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A sunny winter day like this is enough to raise the interior temperature to 1C to 2C.  Because of the thick insulation and air tightness, the house has the ability to keep the temperature stable.

Give us 7 sunny days like this and we may not need the heater at all.

But for days when it’s gloomy and Mr. Sun is hidden behind the thick clouds, the house’s integrated heaters are programmed to keep the temperature stable.  Potential “cold spots” within the house are equipped with heaters that look like this.

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This is the biggest one  for the living room, but the smaller ones in the bedroom almost look the same.

The external blinds of the house has a central control unit that can be programmed to open and close at certain times of the day.  In winter, it is useful to open everything during the day to let the sunshine in and heat up the house.  But in summer, there will be a need to keep it closed.  Remote control switches are also available to adjust the amount of opening or amount of light that one would like to have.

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With its air-tight feature, you may be curious about how the house breaths.  Well, this equipment makes it all possible.

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Air vents are strategically located around the house to exchange the air.  There is no need to open the windows.  You are guaranteed to breathe in fresh air.

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We still haven’t done much about the exteriors of the house, so this is pretty much how it looks like from the outside.  Come spring and the landscaping is another major project.

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Anyhow, we are happy with our first few weeks in this house although it is not completely decorated yet.

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Call it crazy, but we are probably one of very few people who are very eager to receive their energy bill.

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Almost Done!

I have been keeping mum these past few months about our big family project, but I cannot hold it off any longer.  I am super excited.  Our very own “passive house” is about to be realized!

Aesthetically, it may not look like anything from this perspective, but the main reason why we chose this type of design is its promise of slashing the heating energy consumption by an amazing 90%.   It’s all about functionality!  Not only is it environmentally-friendly, it will also be very pocket-friendly in the long run.

So what is a  “Passive House”?
The passive house design was introduced by a German physicist Wolfgang Feist and Swedish professor Bo Adamson. It In 1996, the Passive House Institute in Germany was founded by Feist.  Here in the Czech Republic, it is starting to gain popularity.  According to Mother Earth News, there are only 15,000 buildings worldwide that are certified to have met passive house standards.  In the US, this type of technology is just beginning to catch on with about a dozen buildings certified as “passive.”
The passive house design goes by the following basic concepts:  Reducing Air Infiltration, Superinsulation, Eliminating Thermal Bridging, High performance (and properly placed) windows and doors, Super-efficient balanced ventilation systems, and Energy efficient design (compact) with healthy building materials and furnishings.
I wouldn’t go into details any further, but if you would like to know more about passive houses, this video presentation may help.  Click here.
I will have to say that all credit relating to this project goes to my dear husband, one of the best engineers in the world.  Long before this concept had been brought into fruition, he had it in his mind all along.  When we decided to settle and build a home, he tirelessly did all the research on the best design that will fit our needs.  The passive house was a clear choice from the very beginning, given all the benefits that this concept has to offer.  We already knew what type of house we wanted to build without even knowing where or how it was going to be built.  All the engineers in the family believe it is a great concept, so here it is.
Our house is situated in a new residential development area within Kolin surrounded by woods and a small body of water.  We chose this location due to its proximity to nature and the neighborhood surrounding it.
This is the “zoomed in” view of our community.
But this is how it really looks like from the highway.
And this is what our “beach” looks like.
Who knows, it may even double as a skating rink during the winter.  That, I have to find out soon.
Right now, we are very busy doing the final stages of the construction.  Well, at least my husband is.  I know it’s going to be a long project, but our goal is to move in before winter settles in.  I am very curious to know if this passive house design will really live up to its concept and save us some money on our heating bills.
Although there is a lot of pressure ahead, I’m excited…..and I’m happy!
One of the most interesting things about a “passive house” is that it recycles all internal heat gains, including body heat from  humans, the appliances, the computer, and the light bulbs!   Needless to say, that during winter time, visitors can actually lower our energy bills.
So, will you come and visit?