THE REAL COST OF BUILDING A PASSIVE HOME
Many things have changed over the last 50 years – phones are smaller, cash is a thing of the past and then there is that little thing called the internet. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed dramatically… how a house is built. Despite advancements in design and materials and a greater understanding of sustainability, the way we build a house is largely the same.
We’ve changed the way we live and use our homes but the construction of our homes hasn’t adapted in line with us. And that’s costing us more – both financially and environmentally. Installing solar panels plays its part in reducing your heating and cooling bills, but it is just the beginning in creating a sustainable home.
But what if your entire home could be sustainable and self-sufficient? From its design, the building material and how it’s constructed, to the long-term energy usage in your home. Well, that’s called a Certified Passive House - a house that meets a rigorous design standard renowned for increasing energy efficiency and comfort, while being healthy and sustainable too.
PASSIVE HOME DESIGN IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT
When building or renovating your home, you’re in it for the long haul. It’s the place where you’ll relax, entertain and spend time with friends and family for years to come. There’s many ways to build your home, but the conventional path isn’t always the cheapest way to do it, particularly over the long term. Investing in modern and sustainable methods during the planning and construction process will save you money… but consider it like playing the long game.
There’s no question the upfront costs for a passive home can be higher than a conventional build, but comparing it over the lifetime of your home it is clear the costs are easily offset by reduced (or even obsolete) utility bills, maintenance and greenhouse gas emissions.
H2: HOW DOES A PASSIVE HOUSE WORK?
Adopting passive design in the construction of your home takes advantage of the surrounds, climate and building materials to maintain a consistent temperature – without the need for heating or cooling systems which are notoriously expensive to run.
Natural sources of heating and cooling, such as the sun and cool breezes, is achieved by appropriately orientating your building on its site and carefully designing the ‘building envelope’ i.e. the roof, walls, windows and floors of a home.
A well-designed building envelope minimises unwanted heat gain and loss through:
Passive solar heating – building orientation and placement of windows and doors to naturally capture sunlight to warm your home
Effective shading – pergolas, awnings, adjustable shutters and planting
Window glazing - up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through ineffective glazing
Insulation – the correct level and type of insulation is critical, as is correct installation so that it works effectively. Consider a green roof for some extra natural insulation
Door and window seals - air leakage can account for 15–25% of winter heat loss
Thermal mass of materials – using building materials with a low thermal mass, such as timber, can help moderate the temperature inside your home
IS BUILDING A PASSIVE HOUSE WORTH THE MONEY?
Let’s compare building a house to buying a new car. You do your research on how much it will cost – the upfront costs to get it on the road, a green slip and insurance, plus the money you’ll spend over the lifetime of the car: fuel, regular servicing and registration each year. It’s the same when budgeting for a new construction – it’s important not to overlook the ongoing costs of running your home. Gas and electricity bills. Maintenance costs. The cost of replacing cheaper materials that won’t last the distance.
Adopting passive house elements in the design of your home can really add up to big savings over the long-term, so it pays to crunch the numbers before you build. A conventional building might be cheaper at the beginning, but cost you a whole lot more over its lifetime. So, is a passive house right for you?
Do you want to:
Live more sustainably?
Reduce ongoing costs for utilities and maintenance?
Reduce your reliance on external energy providers?
Have a high-quality, durable home?
Maximise your surroundings and orientation of your home?
Enjoy a healthier home with great air quality?
For expert advice on building your passive home, talk to award-winning local builder Souter Built. Specialising in passive home construction, heritage restorations, commercial and residential building and renovation in the Illawarra, Sydney and surrounding areas.