2 Cold Months in a Passive House

The house is not yet complete, but with the colder-than-average winter we’ve been having, I’m sure many of you are curious to know how Kingston Passive House is performing.  The building envelope is mostly complete; the only items missing are the 3 exterior doors.  Even with 2 of those doors being nothing more than 2 sheets of 0.5-inch plywood (The third is a temporary steel door) we have been very impressed with the performance thus far.  Our active heat source is a standard 4800W construction heater.  In terms of passive sources, we have a pair of dehumidifiers running and of course a few CFL bulbs during the day (basement).  We keep the house at 14 degrees; certainly not warm, but a good temperature for working.  Even on the cold days (below -20 Celsius)  The construction heater only runs about a quarter of the time to maintain temperature.  When the sun is shining, the temperature rises in the house – sometimes by as much as 3 degrees!  We have to be realistic here; it will take more energy to maintain 20 degrees, and we’re also not running the HRV yet.  Even when we consider the less-than-adequate doors and absence of inhabitants and other passive heat sources, the consumption will most likely go up a bit.  These early indicators do give us comfort that we’ve done things right; they’re a glimpse into the future, a taste of what’s to come in a super-insulated, air-tight home and it’s really quite exciting.

Using an IR thermometer, we have also measured internal glass temperatures of the tri-pane windows.  With the sun shining, we get readings of 21 – 23 degrees on windows with a hard low-E coating (better solar heat-gain coefficient) and glass temperatures on the shaded side of the house (soft low-E coatings) were about 1.5 degrees cooler than the ambient air temperature.

The house is currently ready for drywall inside, and the metal roofing, soffit and facia arrive this week!  Here are a few pictures showing progress made over the past couple (cold) months:

The OBC doesn't allow Air-Admittance Valves in new construction, so we kept the pipes low in the insulation layer, with a single stack

The OBC doesn’t allow Air-Admittance Valves in new construction, so we kept the pipes low in the insulation layer, with a single stack

Putting the raised-heel to use... Cellulose blown in at 36" deep = R-105!

Putting the raised-heel to use… Cellulose blown in at 36″ deep = R-105!

We tarped (and heated) the exterior in sections to apply the Stucco (EIFS)

We tarped (and heated) the exterior in sections to apply the Stucco (EIFS)

The water-proof layer under the EIFS was a festive RED... Sure got the neighbors talking!

The water-proof layer under the EIFS was a festive RED… Sure got the neighbors talking!

Once the EIFS was complete, the porch roof could be built.

Once the EIFS was complete, the porch roof could be built.

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One thought on “2 Cold Months in a Passive House

  1. Surprised you have not far bigger windows on the south face to maximise solar gain? Are you going to clad in Western Red Cedar or Oak to “lift” the design (and improve heat retention) which is currently VERY box like?

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