Rob and Karin’s story: the first certified Passivhaus Plus in the UK

16 September 2016

Rob and Karin set out to build a comfortable family home which would improve their quality of life as well as reducing their carbon footprint. They chose the Passivhaus Plus standard for their build, which combines the Passivhaus approach to minimise their home’s energy requirements with energy generation, so that the home produces more energy than the occupants consume, not just to heat the property, but also for electricity.

Passivhaus buildings have high levels of insulation and airtightness and maintain a comfortable temperature all year round, resulting in much lower heating bills than conventional property.

Traditionally, Passivhaus construction has been seen as significantly more expensive than other houses of a similar size. Rob and Karin wanted to demonstrate that it was possible to build a Passivhaus for little more than the cost of building a standard house. They set out to complete their build on a budget by using materials and techniques with which British builders were familiar. Everything in their house except for the windows, airtightness membranes and ventilation system can be found in a typical builder’s yard.

The result has been a practical family home, where the whole house maintains a steady temperature throughout and produces more energy than it consumes over the course of the year. This combination of low energy demand and high solar production, from 38 solar panels, means that they will receive a net income from the electricity generated.

Karin loves the Immersun energy controllers, which divert solar power generated to heat up the hot water cylinder. As long as the sun shines for a while during the day, they do not need to import any electricity from the grid to have hot water. Rob loves the ventilation system. For the cost of two 40W fans, it supplies the whole house with a steady stream of warm fresh air.

They appreciate that the insulation and airtightness layer really makes the difference to provide comfort for their house, as it ensures that very little energy is needed to keep their family home warm.