It’s easy to dive into the subject of home energy efficiency and get lost “in the weeds” rather quickly — especially when you begin discussing the industry leading Passive House standard. As builders of beautiful, energy efficient homes with experience in building to Passive House standards, we answer a lot of questions about how to build an energy efficient home.
What Is Passive House?
If you’re looking to build an energy efficient home and envision one day becoming energy independent, the Passive House standard is for you. In a nutshell, a “Passive” house is an extremely energy efficient house that is designed to achieve:
- Fresh indoor air,
- Durability, and
- Real promise for energy independence.
Each of these topics is worthy of its own consideration, and we invite you to review them more carefully. Suffice it to say here that if a house is not comfortable, durable, and healthy, it cannot be truly energy independent.
HERS Ratings & Home Efficiency
When it comes to home energy efficiency, we at Timber Ridge Craftsmen, Inc.like to reference a common and easily understood scale to start our discussions: the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index. This HERS index is a scale of 100 down to 0. The number “100” is a baseline — a starting point which references a previous version of the energy building code. Every point lower than 100 represents a percentage savings of energy consumption. A HERS score of 70, for example, signals a 30% reduction in energy consumption. The lower the HERS score, the more energy efficient the home.
Comparing Energy Efficiency Programs
Using the HERS scale, we can better compare and contrast different energy efficiency programs you may have heard of. For example, version 3 of ENERGY STAR for Homes aims for that 30% reduction in energy consumption mentioned above. Passive House, meanwhile, often achieves a 60% to 65% reduction compared to the baseline. A ‘Net Zero’ Home would achieve a reduction of 100%, scoring a perfect “0” on the HERS Scale.
In keeping with the larger theme that energy efficiency is part of an integrated whole of health, well-being, and sustainability, it is best to discuss energy scales, scores, programs, and percentage reductions in the broader context of your own building goals and objectives.