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

Rob and Karin set out to build a comfortable family home that would improve their quality of life as well as reduce their carbon footprint.

They chose the Passivhaus Plus standard for their build, which combines the Passivhaus approach to minimising energy requirements with on-site renewable energy generation. This means  that the building produces more energy than its occupants consume, both for heating and 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. 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 familiar to British builders. Everything in their house except for the windows, airtightness membranes and ventilation system can be found in a typical builder’s yard.

In order to finance their project, the couple needed to find a mortgage lender that understood both the challenges and the longer-term benefits associated with a Passivhaus self-build. They spoke to the mortgage team at Ecology, which has a well-established track record in supporting Passivhaus projects and shared their enthusiasm for low-impact self-build.

The result has been a practical family home, which 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 and Rob point to two devices that they have found particularly effective in managing their energy consumption. The first is the immerSUN energy controller, which diverts surplus solar power 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. Second is the mechanical 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 make the difference in providing comfort for their house, ensuring that very little energy is needed to keep their family home warm.

Find out more about Ecology’s self-build mortgages.