A passive house in Austria. Image courtesy the Passive House Institute.

One of the main principles of passive house construction (read about this fantastic energy-saving way of building in this recent New York Times article) is making the building envelope as close to airtight as possible–to keep heat and cold from leaking in and out where they’re not supposed to. Several construction techniques unique to passive house design help achieve that goal, most notably the principle of keeping the inside and outermost layers of the house detached from the framework studs so they don’t have to be punctured for screws. But special construction techniques aren’t the only way to keep your house airtight: If you’re building from scratch, you can reconsider what appliances you’ll be installing, too.

Your clothes dryer (if you even use one) is especially important, because the exhaust vent leading to outdoors a traditional dryer requires typically allows far more air in and out of the house than just the hot air from the dryer. A more energy-conserving option is a condensing dryer. These dryers dispose of hot, damp air by turning the water in it into condensation and draining it away, then keeping the heat from the air to keep drying the clothes–as opposed to just sending the heat and moisture outside as waste, like a conventional dryer does. And since a condensing dryer doesn’t send anything outside, it doesn’t need a vent—so you don’t have to cut a leaky hole into your house for one!

And while you’re saving energy by installing a condensing dryer in your house, you can save it inside the machine, too. Wool Dryer Balls look like tennis balls, and dropping a few in the dryer with your clothes not only shortens drying time but reduces wrinkling, too. And there are countless green cleaning products for the wash. Among Green Depot’s favorites: Oxy-Boost is a fantastic alternative to chlorine bleach, and Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder works like a charm without phosphates or fragrances–and comes in a nifty old-timey package, too.

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