3 Passive House Myths

The Passive House or Passivhaus standard pays close attention to the energy efficiency and comfort within the building. This standard aims to create buildings with ultra-low energy consumption and a smaller ecological footprint in general. As Passive Houses become more commonplace in today’s green building landscape, it’s worthwhile to explain certain myths that have developed about the way they work.

Myth #1: You can’t open any windows

This myth arises from the principle that Passive Houses must be airtight with minimal air leakage. These principles mostly apply to the construction of the building’s envelope. An airtight envelope helps to prevent heating and cooling loss. However, opening a window generally does not interfere with these processes, nor does it dramatically interfere with the temperature, air flow, and moisture levels of a Passive House.

Myth #2: It’s expensive to continuously run a mechanical ventilation system

Passive Houses have special ventilation systems such as ERVs or HRVs. A Zehnder HRV typically costs annually less than $40 to run continuously in a home. These systems are highly specialized to operate quietly and at much lower airspeeds than traditional HVAC systems. The energy-efficient nature of a Passive House’s ventilation system means that it offers savings in energy costs. While these systems require an upfront investment for purchase and installation, inhabitants find that operating costs are lower than with traditional heating and cooling, which often translates to long-term savings.

Myth #3: Passive Houses don’t have modern aesthetics

The first generation of Passive Houses was built with a more continental aesthetic. While this is the look for some types of Passive Houses, it’s not necessarily the norm for all of them. The main requirements for Passive House relate to the performance of the home. Therefore, the aesthetics can be developed as home and building owners see fit. Many Passive Houses have a more modern style, while some remain similar in style to the original Passive House models.

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