There’s a fascinating movement around the world that’s focusing on the future of home insulation. In place of untested ideas and old-fashioned materials, it uses the latest technology to create healthy homes.
The name for this approach is the “passive house.” Now there’s a state-of-the-art example in New Zealand, following the construction in Auckland of the country’s first certified passive house. Passive houses are designed to need minimal heating or cooling. Achieving this requires the use of specified building materials and excellent home insulation.
Great to live in – and good for your energy budget too
The design makes it easy to seal the house – keeping warmth in – while relying on a cleverly designed ventilation system to circulate air.
Building a passive house doesn’t require a hair shirt philosophy. Modern technology, such as heat pumps and photovoltaic cells, is used throughout. The Auckland example even boasts a swimming pool. The main difference between a passive house and a common or garden Kiwi home is the approach to insulation. The passive building’s structure is treated as an airtight envelope with airflows strictly controlled. This helps keep energy inputs to a minimum.
Advanced and eco-friendly
The Auckland home’s owner, Philip Ivanier, acknowledges that construction costs are higher than normal but says passive houses offer some major benefits over the longer term.
“They’re incredibly healthy to live in. They’re incredibly insulated. We should be able to heat and cool it for around $20 a month, there will be solar panels on the roof and we should be able to put some power back to the grid. There will be no mould or mildew. For children, for anyone with allergies, it’s great.” While only a few will be able to follow Mr Ivanier’s example and build a home from scratch, many New Zealand homes could benefit from upgrading their insulation. Ceiling and underfloor insulation that’s installed to modern standards can slash a huge amount from your monthly power bill. Install an efficient modern heat pump and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy home.
What can you do to future-proof your home?
It’s not quite the house of the future, but it’s a big advance on the chilly bungalows and villas of yesteryear.