10 ways to make your new home energy efficient :

 

Building a new house?

Congratulations!  This is the perfect opportunity to create a house that will not only keep your family healthy and happy but also save you loads when it comes to energy consumption.

The increasing availability of energy-efficient building products and technologies means the cost of building energy-efficient homes in New Zealand is coming down.  And the good news is, it means healthy homes for Kiwis.

 

Why build an energy efficient home?

- Everyone loves to save $$.  Clever design, alongside the good use of heating and building materials, means lower energy bills.
- Healthy homes mean healthy people.  Homes that are poorly insulated, damp, and cold can cause health issues like respiratory problems or diseases like rheumatic fever.
- Let’s not waste our valuable resources.  Clever design of your home means your reliance on natural resources is minimised.

 

10 ways to make your new home energy efficient 

1.  Position

The sun’s energy is free – harness it!  Position your house on the section to soak in the sunshine during winter.  Building extended eaves will protect your home from the harshest midday sun during summer.

Our Top Tip:  Decide which rooms need to be warmest and position them on the sunny side of the house. 

2.  Insulation

When it comes to making your home warmer, drier, and more efficient to heat, we have three words…  insulate, insulate, insulate.

Good insulation means your home is warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Insulate ceilings, walls, windows and under the floor.  It’s worth going over the top when it comes to insulating ceilings and walls, don’t skimp! Make sure your concrete slab is highly insulated too, as a lot of heat loss occurs through the foundations too.

Our Top Tip:  Stuff insulation between joists in the ceiling, as well as adding another layer over the top of the joists for extra effectiveness. Don’t forget to cover manholes. 

3.  Thermal Mass

Thermal Mass is the use of heavy building materials (like concrete, or block work) to absorb the sun’s energy.  By absorbing heat during the day, the thermal mass prevents the house from getting too hot.  The heated material then releases energy during the night to provide heating.

Our top tip: You can also use thermal mass near a source of radiant heat, like a wood burner.

4.  Ventilation

Ensuring your house is free from moisture is the best way to ensure the health of your house (and the people who live in it).  Ventilation doesn’t have to be complicated.  Opening a window allows fresh air through your home and is particularly important in rooms like bathrooms.  A home ventilation system is a good way to provide continuous ventilation without having to open windows or doors.  Ventilation systems do not make your home warmer, but they will make the home more comfortable.

Our Top Tip:  Think about positioning windows to allow for cross-ventilation to help cool your house in summer.

5.  Heating

There are loads of options when it comes to heating your home.  Whatever heating system you choose, it will work most efficiently when your home is well insulated.  Choose a heating system that is best suited to the size of your home and produces the lowest emissions.

Our Top Tip:  Rather than running heating to every room in your house, use movable heaters in rooms that are not used often.

6.  Hot water

In an average New Zealand household, 30% of energy usage is in the heating of water. That’s a fair chunk of your power bill, so it’s worth making sure you’re using hot water cylinders as efficiently as possible.  Maintain your hot water cylinder throughout its life, add insulation to hot water pipes, wrap the cylinder, and install shower flow restrictors.

Our Top Tip:  Installing a wetback system off your wood burner is a great way to reduce your reliance on electrically heated hot water. 

7.  Windows

Double-glazing is now standard in all new homes thanks to Building Code insulation requirements.  But there are a few extra actions you can take to improve the performance of your windows.  Adding an inert gas, like Argon, between the layers of glass reduces heat loss by around 3% - 9%. Use window frames that have a thermal break, and position largest windows on the sunny side of the house.

Our top tip:  Install thick, thermal curtains to help prevent heat loss through windows.

8.  Lighting

Use LED lights throughout your home. LED lights last 15 times longer and are 80% more efficient than standard bulbs.  LEDs are well worth the initial outlay.

Our Top Tip: Look at installing light sensors in rooms that are not used often.  These lights turn on when a person enters the room and turn off when no movement is detected.  Great for a garage.

9.  Solar Power

Look at installing solar panels to turn the sunshine into free power (after set up costs). Solar panels are traditionally very expensive to install, but the prices are coming down every year. You can choose an off-grid system that is completely self-sustaining, or a grid-connected system.  Grid-connected solar panels use grid energy on low sunshine days and sell back power on high sunshine days.

Our Top Tip:  If a full solar set-up is too expensive, consider solar for your hot water heating only.

10.  Water usage

Another free resource is rainwater.  Harvesting rainwater in tanks means you have your own supply of water for toilets, laundry and garden irrigation.  Alternatively, look at recycling grey water from bathrooms (not toilets), laundry and showers.

Our Top Tip: Check local council regulations before installing a grey water system, some local authorities limit how grey water systems are used. 

Building an energy-efficient home is easily achieved through implementing some clever initiatives at the design and build stage.  Whatever initial costs you outlay now will be more than paid back when you enjoy the long-term savings on energy bills.  And there is no price you can put on the health and comfort of your family.

 

Photos