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Building Healthy Homes

26/06/2015 By David Reid Homes

A properly insulated home will save homeowners thousands of dollars in heating costs, says David Reid Homes Hawke’s Bay owner Brendan Williams.

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Brendan Williams

Brendan, who has been in the trade for more than 25 years including six years in England, says New Zealand is well behind the times when it comes to building warm, dry homes.

“Homes in Europe are built to withstand the cold through double-glazing and insulation, but for some reason, older New Zealand homes have been built with very little thought given to insulation and ventilation.”

New Zealand has introduced minimum insulation requirements for all new home builds, including double glazing and ventilation, which help cut ongoing heating costs, he says.

“These days, we’re building homes that are so well insulated, people are finding they need very little in the way of introduced heating, and the savings you make on heating your home can potentially make up for the initial cost of extra materials and construction.”

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North facing and designed to capture as much free heat from the sun as possible – a David Reid Homes Hawke’s Bay build

When building new, good design – such as ensuring you maximise free warmth from sun – and using the right materials will ensure you get a home that is a pleasure to live in and easy to keep warm, he says.  Some examples to consider include:

  • The use of concrete or tiled floors in north-facing areas to allow heat to be absorbed during the day and then slowly released at night.
  • Build eaves deep enough to keep out the summer sun whilst still allowing winter sun to come in.
  • Consider materials that will contribute to a warmer, more breathable home.
  • To combat overheating in summer, homes should be cross ventilated.  Think vents, windows, louvres or doors to allow cooling breezes through your home.
  • To keep your home warm and dry during winter, you can use forced or positive-pressure ventilation systems, which blow dry air into your home from the roof space above the ceiling (the roof space is usually warmer on sunny winter days). These systems force stale air and moisture out through the walls and joinery, but should have a filtration unit to remove any pollutants from the roof space.
  • Another effective way of keeping damp air from within the house is a Heat Recovery System which recovers heat from moist extracted air and uses that to warm up cold, dry air from outside that is then pumped into the house.
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Double Glazing is now mandatory for all new home builds in New Zealand. But you can retro-fit window seals to existing windows to prevent heat escaping

  • On colder days you’ll still need some other form of heating to warm the house, but you won’t need as much heat because dry air is easier to warm up than damp.
  • Heat pumps have become popular for keeping homes warm because of their high efficiency, but you should be careful to choose a reputable brand and the right size heat pump for the room or rooms you are heating.  Some heat pumps can also lose their effectiveness in cold climates.
  • If you’ve got a ready supply of firewood, then a woodburner that meets the latest emissions standards is a great source of dry heat.

In order to create healthier, more sustainable homes, David Reid Homes works closely with their suppliers to specify and install the most appropriate ventilation system for your home.

If you live in an older, poorly insulated or damp home, consider investing in insulated curtains and window seals that can be retro-fitted to existing windows to prevent heat escaping, Brendan says.

Filed under: Building my home Legislation New Home Designs

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