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Renovating and retrofitting a home - which way to go active or passive energy efficiency for increasing property value, improving lifestyle and saving on energy consumption?



Retrofitting your Home

Active or Passive Energy Efficiency—Which way to go?

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Passive or active heating—that is the question


The best possible results you can expect when combining active and passive energy efficiency technologies. Desirable side effects are an increase of the property value, a better lifestyle and saving on energy consumption.


Technologies have matured that is why minimizing the only dependency on fossil fuels makes sense. New homes should use by design more passive heating from the sun (glasshouse effects) and high levels of heat retention. For active heating  renewable energy, efficient heating like heat pumps and heat distribution can be used on all sorts of housing (examples here).


Why not exploring options to harvest energy for free? Sunlight can be used directly for lighting homes (solar tubes), home ventilation, heating and for generating (solar) electricity. The usage of wind energy is another example of matured renewable energy technology that you will find more and more in residential areas. We have been using all three resources for more than 9 years without any down time.



Passive Energy Efficiency


When renovating putting more Dollars on heat retention should be the strategy. That will save Dollars on heating long-term, and energy friendly features increase the re-sale value of the property.


Passive energy efficiency combines everything to keep the cold and moisture out and the heat in by the right construction methods and materials that might include

· Insulation floors, walls, ceilings

· Double gazing, sky-lights and windows

· Adequate ventilation

· Heating and heat exchange



Active Energy Efficiency


In contrast to passive energy efficiency active energy efficiency generates energy directly from sources like sun, biochemistry, wind and electricity. Not listed here also for the usage of fossil fuels energy efficient solution as stand-alone or central heating in combination as under-floor or convection heating are options to choose from.


Solar hot water systems

· use the sun light to heat water, which is then stored in an hot water cylinder. In the peak of summer the output is high but often the demand on hot water low. At the lowest output in winter the system needs back-up heating based on electricity or gas.


Solar electricity

· Is generated through solar photovoltaic cells (PV cells) e.g. installed on the roof.  The PV system can operate stand-alone that stores electricity in a battery-bank by releasing this energy when needed or connected directly to the national power grid. In the latter case you would feed back electricity (selling electricity) if the production of electricity exceeds your consumption.


We have been using an stand-alone system for years because option 2 was not available at that time. The benefit is independence when the national power grid is down.


Solar heating and ventilation

· blows fresh, warm and dry air into a house that removes humidity and stale air. It only works when the sun is shining by zero running costs.

· Harvesting sun energy by design  - light and heating (glasshouse effect), and energy storage in concrete wall or floors


Wind power

· is certainly the fastest growing electricity generating technology and common in rural areas.

· State-of-the-art wind turbines of all sizes are  available today.


Remote control and Smarthome concepts

· Why would you heat when not being home or like to return to a cold house? To avoid this simply install programmable thermostats.

· For people with deep pockets everything these days can be controlled, managed or ran remotely and the so called “smarthome concepts” offer for everything a user friendly solution.




Take Away

For the last 9 years we have been using for active energy efficiency solar technology (PV elements, solar heating/ventilation) backed up by a wind turbine that provides a good feeling of resilience.


In our experience improving the passive energy efficiency has a greater impact on property values, lifestyle and saving money on energy consumption. If you can spend several thousand dollars retrofitting your home, the earlier you start the longer you can enjoy the benefits. Getting started, the time is now as energy prices only go in one direction. Good luck.



Related article

What Heating is right for your Home, Lifestyle and Budget?


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