Fine-tuning the house
Normally the temperature of the house stays around 19-20 degrees but can go up to 22-24 if we leave the blinds up. The sun does impact but it impacts very locally – but then it does get into the ‘thermal mass’ but only ever so slowly. So you can sit somewhere and it be 24-25 degrees in the sun and go somewhere else in the house and it hasn’t caught up because it’s not in the sun.
During the week we kept the heat from the sun in so that the walls went up to 22 out of the sun and then that warmth ‘decayed’ ever so slowly into the evening. So you can tune the thermal mass by controlling what heat you give it. It’s good and comfortable and warm.
The solar thermal system on the roof meant we didn’t need to use the boiler from April to September– the boiler has been sat there wondering whether it’s been connected. The only gas we used during that time was for cooking.
The first quarter estimated gas bill – presumably based on typical bills for this sort of house – was £888. I gave them the actual figures from the meter and so it was revised down to £31! This was for 46 units of gas and included standing charge rates. We also keep a note of the meter readings per month. The gas use for August was 59p. We really got riotous in September – it went up to £1.32.
People have asked us if we would have wanted a wood-burning stove as a focal point for the house. We haven’t found this a problem – it was a compromise– the most important thing for us was having a Passivhaus that performed. Instead of a fire we’ve got the sun space and looking at the outside garden is our focal point.
In answer to the question of how you dry clothes in a Passivhaus – we use a drying rack in the study which has the advantage of also being near to the hot water cylinder. Because of the house’s warm dry atmosphere, we’re finding our clothes dry overnight.
We were very surprised – and delighted – to win Client of the Year at the RIBA White Rose Yorkshire Awards 2010. The house also won several other awards – including Sustainability and Housing. We were all very chuffed – definitely a great team effort and an enjoyable night out on the ‘red carpet’!
Geoff & Kate Tunstall, Denby Dale Passivhaus