Erase Your Heating Bill with Passive Design

Canadians know it all too well—another cold Canadian Winter accompanied by that ever-increasing heating bill. There is a solution if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life paying thousands and thousands of dollars in heating costs. Yes, it involves building a new home or retrofitting your existing home into a passive house employing the principles of passive design, however you could argue that in the long run you are saving enough on heating over a lifetime to break even.

Passive design is architectural design that eliminates the need for mechanical heating and cooling of a building through the use of smart, time-tested heating and cooling strategies such as natural ventilation, solar heat gain and solar shading and efficient insulation. Around 15,000 passive houses have been built around the world in a few short years, yet few are cropping up in North America. Scandinavian and German-speaking countries are sweeping the industry and streamlining the modern family’s heating bill in the process.

Here’s a diagram that illustrates some of the design principles of passive design:

Check out this blog post from inhabitat.com which features a New York Brownstone that got a total passive design makeover. The renovation also included the installation of two EcoSmart ventless fireplaces, a solar hot water heater, new wood floors, two new kitchens, and remodeled bathrooms, plus extensive restoration of the interior woodwork.

It’s great to see an old historic building not only being restored and maintained but also taken a step further to be completely energy efficient. Is passive design a way of the future in North America? It’s hard to say. The premise is working well in Europe but will we adopt these practices here? Only time will tell…