Published on August 26th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown1
Passive Houses Gaining Popularity In The U.S.
For my entire life, I never owned a working air conditioner, and I used a standing fan to keep myself cool the whole time (it consumed only 50 watts), and Jamaica is pretty hot. Electricity prices are extremely high here (the U.S. equivalent of $0.39 $0.45/kWh), and that make continuous air conditioner operation too cost prohibitive. In America, where air conditioner usage is extensive and popular, passive housing is finally gaining ground.
Passive homes go further than me by using no electricity or any other energy source for heating and cooling. They rely on insulation and smart window designs to keep themselves cool during summer, and also acceptably warm during winter.
Insulation is very common, and windows which are designed to seal are also very common. However, if you want a truly passive home that offers the greatest comfort, you have to go to the next level and use the best insulation (highest R-value), and double or triple-paned windows. Triple paned windows are designed to allow sunlight in. The sunlight then turns into heat when it is absorbed by the floor, walls, and other surfaces inside the house.
They inhibit heat from exiting the house. Triple-paned windows are very effective insulators.
“At this point there’s no reason why any developer can’t now build this way,” said Tim McDonald, whose firm has designed and built energy-efficient buildings with eco-friendly materials for more than a decade in Philadelphia, and recently entered the world of passive housing.
The idea for passive housing actually originated in America, according to the Azcentral.com. However, almost all of the certified passive houses are in Europe. Approximately 20,000 in Europe, and less than 100 in the U.S.