Fact or Fiction: Passive Houses Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

A passive house is among the most comfortable and energy efficient homes available today, but there are still plenty of misconceptions about this eco-friendly housing option. Take this quiz to test your passive house knowledge!

Passive house is simply another term used for the passive solar design that became popular with environmentally conscious homebuilders in the 1970s and 1980s.

While both a passive house and a passive solar house are heated primarily by the sun, the term passive house refers to a certified building standard awarded to structures that meet stringent criteria for insulation, ventilation and energy conservation.

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The first passive house was built in Urbana, Ill., in 1991.

The Smith House in Urbana, Ill., was the first passive house built in the United States, but it was not completed until 2003. The very first passive house was built in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1991.

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Passive house design is unhealthy because the airtight construction doesn't let the house "breathe."

Airtight construction is one of the defining characteristics of passive house design, but the passive house provides outstanding air quality and comfort with a high-tech ventilation system that continually exchanges stale inside air for fresh outside air.

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It costs more to build a passive house than to build a conventional house of the same size.

Passive House Institute US, the official certifier of passive houses in the United States, estimates that building a house that achieves the passive house standard requires an additional upfront investment of approximately 10 percent of the construction budget.

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The passive house standard applies only to houses, not to structures of any other kind.

Just about any type of structure can be built to the passive house standard. As of 2011, more than 15,000 buildings in Europe, including single and multi-family residences, schools, factories and office buildings, have been built or remodeled to passive house requirements.

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A passive house contains no furnace, boiler or other conventional heating system.

One of the most impressive features of the passive house is its ability to maintain constant, comfortable indoor temperatures without the use of a furnace, boiler or any other conventional heat source. A passive house is heated by passive solar gain (sunlight) and the incidental heat generated by the people and appliances inside.

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One of the few drawbacks of living in a passive house is the constant whirring and clicking of the complex ventilation system.

Highly efficient windows, thick walls, and superb insulation help to block outside noise, and the simple, quiet ventilation system even helps to reduce noise transfer from one room to the next.

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You can never open the windows in a passive house.

You can open and close the windows in a passive house just as you would any other house without significantly affecting the performance of the home. However, the constant supply of filtered fresh air means that you don't need to open the windows, and some residents of passive houses find that the house stays more comfortable when they keep the windows closed and allow the ventilation system to heat or cool the outside air before it reaches their living space.

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Any existing house can be remodeled to achieve passive house standards.

You can most definitely apply passive house principles to help to improve the energy efficiency of any home, but it may be difficult to achieve full passive house compliance in every existing home, especially older ones.

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Passive houses only work in relatively temperate climates of places like northern Europe.

While the passive house standard was first developed for homes in Germany and throughout northern Europe, passive house principles can be applied to any climate, including the extreme cold of states like Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont, and the heat and humidity of Southern Europe and the Southern United States.

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