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Living in a Passivhaus: Autumn

At last!  We moved in on Sunday with just the bare essentials which meant our 1st night was like living in a rather posh hotel or a bespoke self-catering  but without the room service or welcome pack!!

Sound, light, heat and smells!

Our main issues with moving in have been sound, light, heat and smells. Not all these are to do with living in a passive house but concerning the design of the new house and what we have been used to, having lived in a traditional stone built 300 year old terraced house for 32 years.

The light has been the most noticeable.   Early morning sun streamed in through the east facing window on our first morning.  We opened the bedroom door and the corridor was effused with warm light.  The light from the south facing windows, floods the house.  We were fortunate to be able to utilise a plot of land which is south facing and meets the favoured orientation for a passive house.

Quiet environment

Passive house triple glazing provides a calm, extremely quiet environment.  However, the way we have designed it on the inside with wood floors throughout and the open plan layout, means that any noise created echoes throughout the house.  We shall see if we can live with this, or whether in time we will feel the need to close off the kitchen or lay more carpeting.

Summer overheating is a problem we expect to address.  As ‘flaming June’ British style this week has meant temperatures teetering towards single figures, the house has not had a true test yet.  So far when it has been warm, we have lowered the external shutters completely providing a muted dappled sunlight in the living room – and guess what?  We opened windows!  We can get rid of hot air rapidly by opening the top window in the sun space.  We noticed before when work was still being done on the house, that leaving doors or windows open for a while did not make a significant difference to the temperature of the building.  With the heat in the mass, temperature changes slowly.

And now I come to smells!  With the open plan layout downstairs, we thought odours would pervade.  We haven’t tried the ultimate test yet – grilled kippers!  We make sure all internal doors are shut and the MVHR does the rest.  The smell of fried onions was most noticeable outside by the external vent – it works beautifully and without a sound! If I can raise the delicate matter of humanly created odours, before entering the toilet we press the boost button and the MVHR does the rest!

VIP visitors

The highlight of the week was to entertain our guest from Germany, Witta, the partner of Wolfgang Feist.  She was delighted with the house and especially pleased to see the ‘Certified Passive House’ plaque on the wall.  She gave us leaflets from the International Passive House Association and Geoff enthusiastically signed up for something which I only later realised meant we would be opening our house to all and sundry in November !

We are delighted with our house. It is comfortable, warm, clean and airy.  We want to keep it that way.  What we are still dealing with is the 32 years of hoarding – memorabilia if you’re being kind, detritus and clutter to be more frank.  We don’t want to mess up our new house!  We might have moved in body but we’ve got an awful lot of boxes still to deal with! The clean lines, open, quiet, comfortable space is excellent!

This has been a long one the first time of writing – don’t expect as much in the weeks to come!

Geoff & Kate Tunstall, Denby Dale Passivhaus

Life changing homes