Case study: Sarah Goffe talks about building and living in a low-energy house

Case Study: Building and living in a low-energy ‘Passivhaus’

Sarah and Tim Goffe moved to Staveley from Halifax, and rented a house here before deciding to build their own. We interviewed Sarah and Tim Goffe them about what it was like to live in a house built to Passivhaus principles.

What inspired you to build your own house? 

Building a house had been a long term project, something we’d had in mind for thirty years. When the opportunity arose after we had sold our Halifax house, we researched many low energy houses and decided to go for a Passivhaus. EcoArc architects are based in Kentmere and are experienced Passivhaus architects and were enthusiastic about our project.

What are the main features that make your home a Passivhaus? 

High degree of insulation. Air tightness. MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) provides fresh filtered air into a building whilst retaining most of the energy that has already been used in heating the building. No cold bridges ie . an area in a building where a gap occurs in the insulation. For example: the roof/wall junction and the wall/floor junction (As these areas will be colder than the main areas there is a greater risk of condensation forming).Triple glazed windows. Maximising solar energy.

On a day-to-day basis, what are the best features of living in a Passivhaus?

Very comfortable temperature of about 20*C through out the house twelve months of the year, without any heating. Quietness. Fresh air. Low running costs, only fuel is electricity.

Are there any drawbacks? 

Keeping the upstairs cool in very hot weather. Our thermal store is upstairs in the centre of the house.

Any hints and tips for anyone thinking of building their own Passivhaus, or similar?

Go for it, we have no regrets, but do your research. Make sure your builder fully understands the Passivhaus principles. Talk to people who have built a Passivhaus.