7 Secrets to a Lovely and Healthy Home (with low running costs)

7 Secrets to a Lovely and Healthy Home (with low running costs)

Double-glazed windows, insulation, a heat pump, and you are all set right?  Wrong.

Why wrong?  Because, it will be all up to you.  You see, many of the people you assumed would be there to help you really aren’t.  It’s easiest to just sell to your ignorance.  So know what really counts.

Comfort and health come first.  But, paying less for better can make it even sweeter.  Talk these things over with whoever is designing your home.  And do a little research.

Here are seven secrets that you can turn into winning ideas:

Orientation and Shading: In our temperate climate here, an east to west spread can work very well for both light and air movement.  Sunlight is free, but holding it out matters, too.  Many designers design for the sun at December 22nd.  But, at February 22ndmaybe you will have too much heat.

Consider movable shading.  Have it work automatically based on temperatures even when you are not home.  It could be external shading or it could be internal blinds.

Photo Voltaic Power:  In a modern home this can be a “no brainer”.  This is because the $10,000 it may cost ($50 per month on a mortgage), will give you a high return on your investment (maybe $100 per month savings). That makes your return instantly positive.

Interested in an electric car?  This increases your usage rate; even when you charge at night and pay it back to the grid during the day.

Windows: Windows can be like holes in your wall.  And sometimes we can just have too many.  Poor windows leak heat out in the winter and let too much heat in during the warm months.  Double glazed is not enough alone.  Thermal spacers are essential.  Thermally broken windows can be wasted if they are not installed within the wall cavity.

Now in NZ there are windows being made to the highest European standards.  These windows have R-value ratings up to five times better than standard double glazed.

Underfloor Heating: Heat your whole house by turning your whole floor slab into a gentle giant radiator. This is fundamentally different heat unlike any other.  Especially in concrete floor slabs this is the lowest cost way to heat your whole home. These systems can be built into many mid-floor structures also.  Insulating your floor slab can make this work even better.

And now, you can also look to cool your house the same way as the Bangkok airport cools their 150,000M2.  Yes; heat is removed from your house in the same manner.

Moisture Management: No more black mould in your home.  Your family will be healthier.  Did you know that our homes are generally trying to get rid of moisture? We make too much of it; cooking, showering, breathing and more can produce up to 8 litres per day.  And that can mean Asthma for many; especially children.

So balanced mechanical ventilation with heat recovery can maintain healthy humidity without you ever thinking about it. Running costs are very low.

Hot Water Heating:Learn how you can seriously reduce your water-heating costs. Depending on where you live, if you spend $1,000 heating hot water with electricity, gas hot water can cost you about $800, a heat pump to heat the same amount of hot water will cost about $350, yet a heat pump powered by Solar Photo Voltaic power will cost even less. A heat pump can typically heat a cylinder about twice as fast as electricity.

Wall Structure:A good old “two by” wall can be okay, but other ways might make sense too.  Concrete poured into expanded polystyrene forms gives you a solid thermal wall with a slow to change heat profile. That is good.

Structurally Insulated Panels are usually foam sheets sandwiched by plywood, or oriented strand boards.  Together these form very airtight, well insulated, and very strong panels for walls and roofs.

These are all very standard now.  But, this does not say do not pursue others like straw bale, european clay blocks, and other block systems.

Yes, there are many things to sort out, but, the quality of home you build is not just a stepping stone, but, let’s you enjoy your life and will give you a better home to sell one day.

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