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Passive & Active Design in Green Homes

Last week, we wrote an article about easy solutions for you to improve your home performance without undertaking major work. Today, we are going to develop this wide subject we just addressed. In fact, if you are interested in building or renovating your own home, here is what you need to know before starting.

Indeed, to develop an energy efficient home, one must think not just about passive or active strategies but to the combination of the two.

You surely first wonder: What is the difference between the two?

Passive Design:

A passive design uses natural “unpowered” systems to provide heating/cooling and ventilation in the house.

For example, the selection of the material, insulation, the orientation, and the form of the building will be important. Passive strategies will optimize and conserve the use of potential energy without first converting it into electricity.

Active Design:

An active design uses technologies such as solar panels, heat harvesting systems or wind turbines to convert energy into electricity. These systems are called powered, because they use electricity.

Passive Features:

  • Insulation

In climates which require cooling and heating, the use of thick walls matters to ensure a strong insulation and avoid using active heating or cooling systems. In fact, the thicker the wall the less heat or coolness will dissipate. The material used for the insulation also matters, in the same way as the thickness, the higher the thermal resistance, the lower the heat flow.

To conclude, this solution reduces the energy losses by reducing heat dissipation in winter and heat gain in summer, thus reducing the use of electricity in a second phase (active features).

  • High Albedo Roofing

Having a high albedo roofing reflecting sunlight limits the heat of the house. In fact, in order to reduce the gain of heat in the house as for the insulation you can also use roof materials or paint reflecting the sunlight to avoid using electricity to cool your home.

  • Solar Heating:

Using passive solar means installing windows and for example verandas to allow the sun heating a space in winter. For the summer or tropical zones, it’s important to also install sunshade, blinds and double or triple-glazed windows.

  • Natural lighting: