December Update

There’s not a whole lot to say these days; the house is now a home 🙂

I’ve updated the spreadsheet with the latest data which also includes or first propane delivery since moving into the house.

On Dec. 5th we turned the heat on… we’ve been having quite the string of cloudy days which is not at all helping our heating!  If you take a look at the last two weeks of our weather it is absolutely clear why we needed to turn on the heat! (Thank you for the info!)



I guess I can update you on our covered deck as well.  Could have done that in July actually!  We decided to build a covered deck off of the east side of the house that was originally going to have a deck and pergola.  So, that meant pulling down the original ledger board that we installed and fixing the siding.  We did all the work ourselves with lots of help from the kiddos.  The boys even checked to make sure the post holes were deep enough for us 🙂 We ended up spending a lot of time on the deck this summer enjoying the shade it provided from the strong rays of the sun during the day.  We plan on screening it in eventually to protect us from those evening mosquitos!  The front of the house will still get a pergola and some decking will be along there as well.  All in good time!!

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Green Building Advisor

Last week I was very pleased to have an article about our home published on the Green Building Advisor website.

As I read the article I found myself in awe.  I recall reading articles such as this (on this website!) and imagining that we could build a home that would perform in such a sustainable way.  And now, here I am, reading an article about OUR home that is all that I had once dreamed of.

Many thanks to Scott Gibson for putting into such eloquent words, a summary of our building experience.



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One Full Year

I’ve been a horrible blogger!!!  We have made it an entire month past the one year mark and I have failed to make an entry.  This is not for lack of wanting, but for lack of time.  It seems as though my jobs as full time parent and full time teacher have monopolized my time as of late.  But as the old saying goes, better late then never!

So, here are the stats:

Heating:  754 kWh
Water Heating:  4534 kWh
Domestic Electricity:  4741 kWh

For each of you reading this you can put this into the context of what you pay for electricity.  Given our electricity rate of $0.1316 / kWh this gives us the following costs.  Also identified here is the base rate that we pay per month.  On top of the numbers shown we also have to pay an additional 14% HST.

Heating:  $99.23
Water Heating:  $596.67Domestic Electricity:  $623.92
Bast Rate:  $323.04

Putting this all together with the HST we have paid a total of $1872.63 for all of our electrical needs including our heating, hot water, and domestic electrical needs.

I must say that I am very happy with these results.  In the home that we owned before we rented we paid around $3500 per year for heat.  We then had to add our domestic hot water on top of this!

So, there you have it.  Our stats.  For our 1950 sq ft home and our family of 6, I think we have done fairly well.

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And the Heat is On

Ugh, I did not want to make this post but, alas, we have had to turn the heat on.  And by heat I mean our one 1500 watt heater; it’s not really that much energy that we are putting into the house…  We have had a pretty large stretch with very few sunny days which has resulted in us having to turn up the thermostat.  We were really  hoping to make it into December but the silly sun just did not want to cooperate with us.  What amazes me is that we can survive days with temperatures well into the negatives that are sunny and we do not need the heat on at all.  Yet, here we sit with temperatures milder than normal for this time of year and we needed to turn it on.

Life in a Passive House.  Am I complaining?  Yes… but not really; life in a Passive House has so far, surpassed our expectations.   Stay tuned for monthly energy data as I’ll continue to post our usage.  At the end of February we will have one full year recorded and I am soooo curious to see where we end up with our heating and overall energy costs.

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Sustainable Housing Series

Again, I am fortunate to be able to give a presentation on our home!  This coming Thursday evening, Nov. 12, at 7pm I will be presenting at the Confederation Centre Public library as a part of their Sustainable Housing Series.  I am planning on sharing information about what Passive House is, our building process, as well as what it is like to live in a Passive House including information on our energy usage and heating.

As always you can feel free to check out our energy monitoring data; I update it monthly and put the data in a spreadsheet.  You can find the link under the “Energy Monitoring Data” tab above.

As an interesting piece of information… it is Nov. 10, 2015 and we have not turned on the heat at all.  We have yet to go below 20 degrees C and that was only after a week with very little sun.  Any bets on when we have to turn on the heat??

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Summer Heating/Cooling

We have been asked several times how we made out this summer. The brief answer, great!

The long answer:

Window screens: The window screens did not come with the windows so we had to have them locally made. Klearwall indicated to us that this would be more economical as they would not have to ship screens from Europe, fair enough. They did however, forget to send them to us and I had to ask to have them shipped which caused us a delay in getting the screens made. When the clips arrived we realized that they were not a product that we were wanting to use and we chose to use screen clips that we purchased locally at Home Hardware. Long story short, we could have made the screens and installed them much sooner than we did. We were having some overheating issues before we installed the screens as we were not able to leave the windows open overnight as the bugs would find their way in. Once we installed the screens though, we were able to enjoy the benefits of passive night time cooling. We would open the windows in the evening and overnight and then close them in the morning to trap the cooler air in the house.

Poor man’s geothermal: Hmmm… if only we had this working properly I think it would have made a substantial difference. We had it running and were seeing about a 10 degree difference in the air temperature from what was outside to what was entering the HRV. Unfortunately, we have had trouble keeping the system running as we continue to get air in the system so the pump will not run. This is a kink that we definitely need to work out.

The verdict: While it would definitely warm up during the day in the house, we always sat at a temperature that was much more comfortable than outside. It often felt like we were walking into an air conditioned space when we walked in even though the indoor temperature could be in the high twenties. Are we happy? Absolutely!

It will be interesting to see when we actually turn the heat on. We are still sleeping with the windows open, who doesn’t love that fresh night time air, and we sit at a pretty constant low to mid twenty temperature. In our previous home we burned wood pellets into June and would start again the beginning of October. I do not foresee us needing any heat that early at all.

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Energy Monitoring Data

I’ve added a new page on the blog entitled, “Energy Monitoring Data”. On this page I’ll be posting the monthly energy data that I’ve collected from TED (The Energy Detective).  I’ve compared our actual energy usage through Maritime Electric with the data that I’ve collected from TED and it is very accurate.  There was only about a 3 kWh difference between the two!

The data is in a Google Drive spreadsheet that I will be continually updating; as of today March and April data is there.  I was disappointed for the month of April though… our overall usage equates to only $114 for the month (that includes all electric usage, heat, hot water, service charge, and taxes).  That isn’t much considering it includes all of that, however, we did use about 15 kWh of energy for heat 😦  We were so hopeful that there wouldn’t be any!  Unfortunately a two week spread of essentially no sunshine got in our way!  Can’t be helped I guess!

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Blower Door Test and Holland College Presentation

This past week we had two events… a second blower door test and another presentation!

On Monday we were fortunate to have Roy come back out to do a final blower door test for us.  While it wasn’t without it’s complications (a door wasn’t shut properly!) we did manage to come in at 0.21 ACH!  This is fantastic!!  Our original was 0.18 ACH and that was before we had put in many of the penetrations.  This goes to show just how diligent  our crew was in ensuring that the air sealing was done properly.  Kudos to Trout River Homes and of course Ralph for the work that he did as well!!

The second event this week was a presentation for the Architectural Technology students at Holland college.  They are currently taking a course entitled Introduction to Sustainable Design and invited me to give a presentation on our home.   The students were a fantastic audience and presented me with lots of great questions.  It is so encouraging to see students engaged in the topic of sustainability and I hope that they will bring elements of sustainable design into their future careers! Every time I give a presentation I intend to take a few pictures but yet again I was so involved in the conversation that I forgot!  You’ll have to trust me that it was a great day 🙂

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How do you know about Passive House?

One of the first questions I get asked about our home is how we first learned about Passive House and why we decided to build this way. 

We first wanted to build a passive solar home and through our research we discovered the Passive House standard. The more we learned about it the more strongly we felt that it was the right choice. Really, we felt there was no other option!

So, leave a comment!  How did you first learn about Passive House?

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Open House Success!

We’ve been recovering from the open house, haha!  In all seriousness, it was a resounding success!  I didn’t even get a chance to take any pictures!  We had 45 people come through the house and many stayed for a significant length of time to make sure they saw everything and had all their questions answered.  We really appreciated all of the feedback we received and especially the excitement that we saw in others as they toured our home.   When we started this journey into sustainable building we had a hard time finding many people who were as interested in building efficiency as we were.  Yesterday, however, brought together a group of like minded individuals who are passionate about this same topic.

While I very much enjoyed answering questions about our home and sharing what we have done, I must say I equally enjoyed hearing others share their own stories and plans.  From students, to architects, to future sustainable home owners and supportive friends, a diverse group was in my home yesterday.  Given the noise level, I know there were many interesting conversations being had!

Thank you to everyone who attended the open house; we are happy to share our experiences!  A special thank you as well to Terry and Natalie Perry for co-hosting the event!

To end this post, a little tidbit of energy data… in the last four days we have consumed 1.5 kWh of energy to heat the house.  At today’s electricity rate of $0.1278/kWh that is only 19.17 cents worth of electricy; an average of less than 5 cents a day!

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