Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County’s first energy efficient “Passive Design” inspired home was built at 2776 W. Indiana Street in the Birchwood neighborhood of Bellingham as part of our 2012 Building on Faith Project. Our second Passive-style home, right next door, is nearly complete, and will be even more efficient.
Our third such home, which will also include donated solar panels from Western Solar, in Birch Bay,will be under construction soon. It is expected to be nearly energy-neutral!
To attempt to meet the Passive Design standard’s energy efficiency requirements we use special double-walled construction techniques and high-tech windows to limit heat loss. An air to air heat exchanger uses warm air leaving the house to heat cool outdoor air coming in. Small electric heaters in each room provide for any additional heat that may be needed. The entire structure is designed to be heated with the wattage of a standard hair dryer!
Building a Passive style Habitat home can cost $12,500 to $15,000 more than the average Habitat home costs to build, but the owners will soon offset the extra cost with their electricity savings. Heating costs for these homes are expected to average about $100 per year.
We believe in being good stewards of our resources and environment as well as providing safe, decent, affordable housing. With this kind of innovative approach we can build a home that saves both energy and money for its owners.