Many new houses in the US are being built as ‘passive homes’ which use solar power differently to conventional green builds. Whilst an ordinary new home with solar panels feeds energy back in to the national grid, ‘passive homes’ work differently by collecting and storing heat energy from the sun and then keeping it in envelopes within the building which means there’s no need for a furnace or central heating. The buildings have dense, wide walls and their windows are South-facing. They’re also made from a number of heat storing building supplies including concrete.
Some experts claim that ‘passive heating’ is the most efficient way to heat a home because no energy or water is needed. Instead, the house is kept warmer in the Winter and cooler in the Summer months because of the ways in which the building stores heat. The technology to make ‘passive homes’ is not new and the earliest known build in the US was back in 1989 and the fruit of a civil engineer’s passion for green living.
These homes could be very useful in the UK where millions of pounds are donated by the Government to the elderly each Winter in order to keep the most vulnerable adults warm over the coldest months of the year. It’s believed that if they had ‘passive homes’ instead of living in conventional properties these expenses could be dramatically reduced.
Outside-facing walls are almost two feet thick on ‘passive homes’ and there’s plenty of light and air within them as the building’s South facing walls are fitted with plenty of windows. Even the landscaping of some of the US builds has been carefully designed so that trees and bushes help to block out the wind.
As the need for us all to have greener lifestyles increases, it’s believed that more contractors both in the US and here in the UK, will invest in ‘passive homes’ because the benefits for the environment and the savings they offer homeowners far outweigh the costs of construction.