Visitors to New Zealand often comment on how cold our homes are. We may think we live in a subtropical paradise, but visitors from countries with more extreme climates are conditioned to warmer temperatures from solidly built masonry buildings with central heating.
The other side of the coin is that these countries are often subject to extreme heat and humidity in midsummer, leading to a need for air conditioners that work overtime. Our climate has less variation between the seasons, so we are unlikely to feel the need to splash out on energy-hungry systems that work hard for just a few months (or even weeks) of the year.
Does this mean Kiwis need to sit tight and accept the status quo? Not at all.
After installing modern insulation and an up-to-date heating system, the smart thing to look at it is a system that ventilates the home to create a dryer, healthier atmosphere. Here are the options to consider:
Option 1: Extractor fans
Many people look to solve the problem with a targeted solution. Traditional extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom can suck out steamy air to prevent condensation indoors. On the positive side, bathroom fans are relatively cheap and easy to install. On the negative side, they need to be switched on and off each time they’re used, which may not always happen with young children in the house.
Option 2: Heat pumps
Many of these can function as an air conditioner when switched onto reverse cycle. Operating in the background, they circulate air around the home, heating or cooling as required. Many find heat pumps to be a cost-effective way of maintaining the right ambient temperature all year round. On the downside, they aren’t suitable for every home.
Option 3: Home ventilation systems
A popular choice these days is a sensor controlled home ventilation system. This works by shifting air from the warm dry areas under the roof into the damper living spaces, using a system of fans and vents. The whole system is controlled by sensors for optimum comfort and efficiency.
Unlike extractor fans, a sensor controlled ventilation system improves the atmosphere throughout the house, all year round. When you think about the health risks of a damp and chilly home, it’s a sensible step to take.