I have now been living in our brand new passive house for 3 weeks and wish to report my first impressions:
Peace, bliss, silence, fresh air, no draft, no headache: WOW, it actually does what it says on the box!
What was a bit destabilizing in the beginning is that you do not hear anything at all: no furnace igniting like a truck has started moving in your crawl space, no wind shaken windows that squeek and quack with stressful noises, no rain hammering on the roof like if it were simple glass, no noise at all… apart from the discrete purr of the new super energy efficient Bosch fridge in the kitchen and the “cracks” of the metal flu when the gas stove kicks in.When you move into an average house, you want to understand all its noises. In a passive house, it is the other way round: the ventilation is so silent that you want to put your hand in front of the venting intake grid to confirm it is working! It is like living underwater or in a bubble where all outdoor sounds are muted. I finally can ignore lawn mowers, leaf blowers, garbage trucks, roofing works next door, and the police sirens on the Boston Post Road brought by western winds. All this noise pollution that lands on our heads without our consent is now foreign to me and I do not miss it for a second!
The second main realization is the fact that there is no draft through the windows (my blinds used to fly in front of the old 1970’s Andersen double pane windows…), no blasting air whether you use the latest Mitsubishi Mr
Slim reversible heating/cooling mini splits or just the minimum required back up heat from the designful Jotul gas stove and Myson bathroom towel rails. The ventilation system is very smooth and it swirls around the house. Even with intake venting grids literally next to the master bed, you don’t feel the airflow coming in at all. It feels well balanced and fresh. In the old house, I used to wrap myself with shawls or polar fleece blankets and sit as close as possible to the heating vent (or as far as possible from the cooling one). Our living room was useless in summer (too hot) and in the middle of winter (too cold). Half of the house was not useable most of the year: what a waste!. Now, I can sit reading a book by the huge master window without even feeling a chill. I can sit wherever I want in the house and be extremely comfortable to the point that I have to go physically outside before I go out in order to know if I need a coat!
Last but not least, the house feels super healthy: I wake up in the morning without the urge of opening a window to ventilate: my indoor air is filtered and completely replaced with fresh outdoor air every 3 hours. The air does not feel dry compared to what it was with the former heating system and my sinuses are happy which relieves me from the splitting headaches I used to wake up with. A total bliss!
When you think we had to rebuild the whole house to get those basic benefits any homeowner should be entitled to, it is mind blowing. Why not change the old way of building so that everyone can enjoy it? If you add to the bliss the fact that everything operates at the touch of a button and that, thanks to my super insulated building and solar panels, my current gas + electricity bills are $40 a month covering the uncompressible distribution cost Coned charges, then you have an idea of what it is to live in a heavenly house.
When you taste Passive House, you never go back. Trust me.
Homeowner of Mamaroneck Passive House
Editor’s note: Veronique has graciously opened her home for a tour on Sunday, November 10, as part of the 2013 International Passive House Days.