Go Green and Save Money with a Passive Home09/24/15
There are dozens of ways to boost your home efficiency and cut down on your heat and air conditioning bills. The most effective method of all, however, is to construct your home to be as green as possible from the start. So-called passive homes use extensive insulation and take advantage of the natural environment to eliminate as much as 90 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling in a traditional home. Read on to learn more about passive homes – and how you can mimic some of their best features to save money in your existing home.
Free Heating from the Sun
The heat and air conditioning systems of the average household account for 48 percent of their total utility bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That's a big bummer when it's time to fill out the checks every month, but it also means there's a lot of room for savings. A passive home incorporates the following features to keep the HVAC expenses to a minimum:
- Environmental Heating and Cooling: Perhaps the most important element of a passive home is its capacity to soak up sunlight in the winter to decrease the amount of heat you need to produce. Large windows and skylights pointing south can absorb that precious sun energy, while assiduous curtain usage and careful placement of deciduous trees in the yard can help block out the sun in the summer so you stay cooler. A good passive home has enough windows to use the sun for lighting whenever possible as well, cutting down on the energy required to power light bulbs as well as reducing wasted heat produced by indoor lighting.
- Extensive Insulation: Whenever you do need to run the heat and air conditioning system, it's essential that the air doesn't escape, wasting energy and running up HVAC bills. Insulation is the key to efficiency, and passive homes are wrapped in a thermal envelope of extra-thick protection. Layers of fiberglass, polyisocyanurate and polystyrene can be 14 inches thick or more. To further safeguard homes from energy loss, all the walls must be completely airtight, and windows use triple panes and other advanced technologies to block any loss of treated air.
- Green Ventilation: Although it's important for a passive home to be airtight when the heat and air conditioning are in use, you also need ventilation to keep your indoor air quality high. In mild temperatures when you don't need to use climate control systems, strategic use of open windows to create cross breezes will do the job. When the HVAC is running, however, you need a heat recovery ventilator, which cycles out stale air while transferring the heat or coolness to the incoming fresh air to prevent energy loss.
Add Passive Features to Your Existing Home
Unless you are building a new home from scratch, it's difficult to incorporate all of these features. But you can pick and choose elements like adding extra insulation or upgrading your ventilation technology to realize significant savings on your bills.
If you are interested in incorporating passive design features into your home, contact a heat and air conditioning expert today.