What Is The “Active House” Concept, And How Do You Apply It To Your Home?
Active House is a concept developed by Velux in Denmark, promoting energy efficient and sustainable living environments – whilst utilising natural light and renewable sources of energy. This notion encourages homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint, and often challenges architects to create innovative designs – in order to fully utilise the light required to achieve the building’s goals.
Timber framed designs are popular within the movement, but Active House ideals have been achieved using a variety of materials and designs. Designing a building which allows for lots of natural light is a given but if you would like to join the Active House revolution, and make your home or workplace more eco-friendly, then here are some more ways to achieve it.
Angled windows are a great innovation for making the most of the natural light that comes into a room. Slanted windows are great for absorbing heat as well as maximising the amount of light that fills the room, which will allow you to hold off on turning on your lights for longer. Having larger windows and skylights placed on the southern side of the house (depending on the movement of the sun) allows it to absorb even more natural heat.
Solar panels are the future. They are a great source of renewable energy that will greatly reduce your energy bills and what’s even better is that the government will pay you to have them. In the UK for example you will receive 19.51 pence for every kWh that your solar panels produce as part of the Renewable Heat Incentive – and better still, it’s tax-free.
One of the major questions that people in the UK have about solar panels is: “will they work in the winter”? Given the fact that our winters seem to last for about 10 months, this is a valid question! The answer is yes, PV solar panel technology has advanced in recent years to the point where your system can produce power even on an overcast day – which makes it a viable option for businesses as well as domestic properties.
If you have ever gotten a bit woozy when sitting in a newly painted room, then chances are that it’s high in volatile organic compounds… which can be harmful. As the name suggests, low-VOC paint contains less of these harmful compounds, which is good news for you, and for the environment, as there are less chemicals emitted into the air. High-VOC paints are major contributors to air pollution and should be avoided in any eco-friendly home.
Many architects feel that some Active House homes have too many windows and skylights, which can be counterproductive when it comes to keeping the cold out and heat in. Insulation plays a major role in making your home energy efficient and eco-friendly. Aerogel is a much underused form of insulation – and it really shouldn’t be as it’s light, incredibly strong and, most importantly, it is regarded as the most effective thermal insulator available. Good insulation is an investment as the cost of the initial installation is more than recouped by the increased energy efficiency and passivhaus quality of your home or office.
Biomass boilers use sustainable material, in the form of wooden pellets, to create energy which provides heat and light for homes and offices. Along with solar energy, biomass is a great source of renewable energy, which will only become more important in the future as other natural resources are used up. There are a number of government schemes and incentives available to help anyone who wants to install a biomass boiler in their home or business.
The tools are there to make your home and/or office more eco-friendly and in-line with the Active House concept. All you need to do is make the necessary effort and investment.