My experience of staying in a Passivhaus
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2013 at 10:31 am
Having lived in a series of draughty old houses over the years, I've always wondered what it would be like living in a Passivhaus. So when i discovered there was a Passivhaus bed and breakfast in Dartington, Devon where I was due to attend a conference, I booked in.
The B&B is one of the first homes to be retrofitted to Passivhaus standards in the UK. The original building was part of a 1970s modernist housing estate, so the Passivhaus needed to retain that aesthetic. A new-build timber-frame extension was added on.
Owners, Adam Dadeby and Erica Aslett quickly disabused me of myth number one about Passivhauses. Apparently it's fine to open the window if you want. As someone who always sleeps with the window open, that was a relief. But the air was so fresh inside the house that I didn't actually feel the need to do, and didn't wake up with that sluggish, headachy feeling you can get in stuffy houses.
They warned me that I might hear the mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, as there was a vent in the bathroom next door but, if I hadn't been listening out for it, I probably wouldn't have noticed. Generally the house was light, bright and very comfortable to stay in.
The house got an air tightness test result at Certification of 0.2 a.c.h. (which is exceptional for a retrofit) and the total Primary measured energy in use is a very low 75.8kWh/m².a during the first year of occupation. This is for the family house, plus a home office and frequent extra B&B guests.
Electricity is generated with a large solar pv array and there are also solar thermal panels for hot water. The owners used natural materials such as sheep’s wool, cellulose and timber frame as well as high performance materials (e.g. An External Wall Insulation System using 180mm phenolic insulation) in their build.
The Passivhaus B&B was recently named winner of the private home category in the UK Passivhaus Awards 2013.By Cathy Debenham
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