It’s always great to hear back from the families we’ve built homes for to learn of their experiences of living in their new Touchwood Homes passivhaus home, and sometimes along side the more obvious benefits, we learn of other, quite unexpected positive aspects of living in a passivhaus too, which have been the inspiration for this month's blog.
The initial goal of building to the passivhaus standard is to reduce day to day running costs like heating and energy use, which we achieve by building the frame from our strong timber I beams, and then pressure fill the cavity with many tons of Warmcel insulation to a super-high density, creating a completely airtight structure.
Other positive side effects to building this way quickly become apparent when living in the home, which combine to create a much, much improved living environment for our clients.
Warmcel insulation is pumped in to the wall cavities of Toucwood Homes at intense pressure to a density of 60kg/m3, creating many tons of thermal mass within the build structure. This creates a very stable internal temperature within the home, unlike traditionally built homes wherein the temperature can fluctuate quite dramatically thoughout the day. The MVHR system built into our homes also gently changes the internal air for filtered, pre-warmed fresh air which results in noticeably cleaner air to breath throughout the home as traffic fumes and other pollutants are removed,and so offer a much improved feeling of comfort and wellbeing, especially for those compromised by health issues such as asthma and allergies.
Clients also comment on the quietness and serene nature of a Touchwood Homes passivhaus. The Warmcel insulation we use is equally effective insulating against noise pollution as it is in maintaining room temperature, and so when combined with triple glazed windows and air-tight construction method,an acoustic blanket is formed around the entire home. This effect is most noticeable on windy days when you can see the trees blowing around through the windows, but no sound is transmitted through the structure.
MVHR also has a further advantage in that washing can be dried quickly on internal clothes horses because the MVHR extracts the moisture from the clothes quickly and prevents any condensation build up, so saving the need to use tumble driers in the winter.
The internal atmosphere feels calm, quiet, restful, light and warm no matter what’s happening outside. This is for a number of reasons including the constant supply of fresh warm air from the MVHR system (which runs silently); the significant reduction in external noise due to high levels of insulation and triple glazed windows; and the vast amounts of light through the windows.
No condensation on the inside of the windows or mold in the bathrooms which are a constant in poorly constructed houses
Washing dries quickly on an internal airer so that there is no need for a tumble dryer and no lingering damp smell.
Cooking smells like curry never linger.
The temperature is uniform throughout the home, instead of too hot by the radiators and cooler elsewhere. No huddling around a radiator to keep warm in the winter.
The floor does not feel cold under foot in winter so there is no need for slippers!
You don’t wake up with a dry mouth / sore throat in winter from having the heating on overnight.
No musty smells in the bedrooms when you wake up so you never feel the need to open the windows for fresh air.
In high summer when you walk through the front door it feels cool and refreshing.
Warmcel acoustic properties mean you can play music loudly and not worry about upsetting the neighbours!
Visitors often comments how lovely the atmosphere is.
A crucial design feature of a Touchwood Homes passivhaus is our detailled attention to solar gain in our design process. In the summer, the high summer sun should be protected from putting too much heat into the building through the use of roof overhangs or external shading, whilst in the winter the lower sun inputs heat into the building on the south elevation.
Clients have often commented the lower winter sun streaming into rooms is something they look forward to, creating more awareness of the seasons without the cold internal temperatures usually associated with the winter season when inside.