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The first thing you notice in most well insulated sustainable homes is the warmth and comfort. Because the walls tend to be thicker and better insulated you often notice the quietness and lack of drafts which can be wonderfully relaxing.
If you’ve installed a ventilation system then the air quality tends to be better than you’re used to, even if you’ve previously had windows open most of the time. Bathrooms tend to clear quickly, cooking smells disappear faster and you’re windows don’t get steamy.
Your utility bills are generally much lower which for most eases the monthly or quarterly anxiety of bills arriving through the door. Some Passivhaus owners have been known to look forward to receiving their bills to see how little they’ve used which is understandable when their homes use 14p per m2 in heating each year.
Will I live differently in a sustainable home?
We all occupy our homes in different ways but if you never lived in a low energy home before then it’s likely you’ll go through some acclimatisation.
Your home will naturally be warmer and so you’ll tend to wear thinner clothes and rarely need your thick duvet. Some owners of very low energy homes actually have to go outside to feel what clothes to wear as it is always warm and cosy inside.
The warmth and air quality bring health benefits which generally result in less coughs and colds, better circulation, better respiratory health and better mental health. People tend to drink more water too, as the environment is warmer and drier, giving certain health benefits.
Your view of ‘heating’ might change too. Suddenly your appliances begin to be the main source of heating in your house. Vacuuming is a great way to heat the house and clean it at the same time. Laundry and dishwashers also have the same effect but cooking on a hob or in an oven gives you the biggest boost. Having friends over also helps as each one of us emits between 100 and 200 watts of heat. It may however be best to keep any ulterior motives quiet to prevent friends feeling a little used!!
Can I open the windows in my low energy house?
Absolutely, this is allowed!!. It is important to have at least one opening window in each room to allow ‘purge’ ventilation (a useful option when it is really hot or you’re cooking something particularly odourous) but also for the simple reason of it being pleasurable to have the windows open on nice days. They also act as an escape in the event of fire.
Trickle vents (occasionally) and even ventilation systems only provide enough air to prevent the feeling of stuffiness but there is nothing wrong with leaving the windows open during the warmer months for extra freshness. During the winter however, you probably won’t want to open the windows much as this just wastes your heat.
If you want to find out more about how to effectively manage your sustainable building project, check out The Self-Build Series. This series of guides has been put together to you understand sustainable construction. We hope you find them useful!