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How Does a Passive House Work

WHAT IS A PASSIVE HOUSE? The term “Passive House” (not to be confused with passive solar design, though there are overlapping principles) refers to a design and construction standard that aims to drastically reduce heating requirements in homes so that oversized conventional heating systems are no longer necessary. The homes maintain constant temperatures and do not rely on wasteful amounts of fossil fuels to continually heat and cool, therefore passive.

HOW DOES A PASSIVE HOUSE WORK? The strategy of a Passive House is to reuse “free” heat to heat the home. “Free” heat is generated from all electrical and gas appliances such ovens, refrigerators, computers and light bulbs. The building envelope of a Passive House must be extremely well insulated and air-tight so that this “free” heat can not unintentionally escape out of the building.

  • A mechanical ventilation system, with an air to air heat recovery component, is installed to simultaneously bring in fresh air and remove the same amount of stale air.
  • The stale air leaving the house is carrying the “free” heat. It goes through the heat recovery ventilator, and transfers the heat, to the incoming fresh air, before it leaves the building.
  • The cool, exterior fresh air comes into the heat recovery ventilator, picks up the “free” heat and goes into the home warm.
  • The cost of a conventional heating system can be saved and the savings invested in better insulation, air-tightness, windows, ventilation and a less expensive backup heating system.

The Artisans Group designs and builds to Passive House standards. Our lead designer, Tessa Smith, is a certified Passive House Consultant, one of less than 300 in the nation at the time of this writing.