Friday, 14 August 2020

What is an active house? The confusion of Eco builds!


I have spoken about passive houses and eco builds in general on a few occasions and although I have briefly mentioned active houses I haven't gone into too much detail.  So I thought that I would rectify this and give active houses a bit of the attention this time.

There is a big clue in the name, 'active house'. As its name suggests this house is a provider, it is built with the intention to supply and store energy for you and your family. These houses take passive houses and they bring everything up a level, a step further into sustainable living. An active house should be low energy, low impact and really comfortable to live in. We spend quite a bit of our time indoors, and that's not taking into consideration recent events,  but with so much time being spent inside it is vital that the environment is a comfortable one. 

With both passive houses and active houses there needs to be light. When eco living first came about a lot of people decided against building in this way partly due to the aesthetics of the build. Windows were often seen as detrimental, they were needed for light but at the same time a lot of heat was being lost through them making the home less energy efficient. Now, Velux provides windows that conform to passive house standard. They allow light to enter the build without compromising on heat loss or the  air tightness of the structure.  Technical solutions to the early problems of passive house standard include things such as electric skylights, room layout, orientation and how the light actually reflects inside.

The design for active houses is very intricate. As I have stated above every detail is discussed to ensure that the comfort and aesthetics of the build are not compromised at any stage. The ultimate goal is to provide a home that is pleasing on the eye, comfortable to live in and is highly energy efficient. Is an active house a competitor for a passive house? I don't know to be honest.  I'm not sure I would be totally comfortable in suggesting that these were remotely in competition. Passive house for one is a building standard and Active house is more of a brand.  There are many similarities between these two and there are many standards and concepts that would apply to both but what I believe is that an active house is a passive house that gives back. The principles are the same, but an active house is so efficient, it becomes positive.

Both passive houses and active houses provide sustainable living. An active house aims to not only be energy efficient but aims to generate enough energy so that there is a surplus amount. This excess is then fed back into the grid. So not only do these builds provide zero carbon emissions but they actually produce positive energy.

Whether you decide on a passive or active build you are setting your sights on a concept and lifestyle. The energy efficiency of these builds is second to none, and let's face it, you could even get your home to work for you! Imagine that. Producing energy to send back into the grid by, quite literally, doing nothing. Imagine if we all managed this concept, imagine if we all had a positive energy supply and imagine what difference this could make to our pockets and the environment.


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