Housing & energy use

Richard Morrison is Council’s Eco-Design Advisor. He offers a range of free services, including home eco-audits where he will visit your home and give advice to make it warmer, drier and healthier; phone advice; proposed plan consultation and group talks. Contact richard.morrison@kapiticoast.govt.nz or 04-296 4651.

Kapiti Coast District Libraries’ Sustainable Living book list covers sustainable architecture in the Home/Health section. Energy-specific issues are in the Energy section.

Learn more about being energy-efficient from EECA:

  • Appliances – When it’s time to replace your old appliances choosing more efficient models is a good way to save on your appliance electricity bill. You can also save money by using your appliances sensibly and switching them off when you aren’t using them. Priceme is a good tool when it comes to actually shopping for appliances – once you choose the type of appliance you can narrow your search by Energy Star rating.
  • Building and renovating – incorporating energy efficiency into your homes design.
  • Your home in general – Many homes in New Zealand waste energy. They are often poorly laid out and constructed have inadequate insulation and consequently use a lot of energy to heat adequately. As a result of this they are frequently underheated and unhealthy. There are, however, many things you can do to make your home warmer, healthier and more energy efficient. Issues covered are insulation, heating, dampness, ventilation, hot water and lighting.

Smarter Homes is the Department of Building and Housing’s website. It was created in a joint initiative by the Department, the Ministry for the Environment, Consumer, Beacon Pathway Ltd and URS, with assistance from a number of other organisations to provide clear, independent, factual information about sustainable home design, building and lifestyle options. Set aside some time to have a look around this set as there’s a lot in here: design, energy, water, siting and landscaping, materials, and construction.

Level has been developed for the construction industry by BRANZ Ltd, the independent research, testing, consulting and information company. Level aims to help you design and build homes which have less impact on the environment and are healthier, more comfortable, and have lower running costs. Covers site analysis and site use, passive design, water, material use, energy, wet areas, and health and safety.

If you’re interested in generating your own energy, EECA’s website is excellent:

Sustainable Energy Association New Zealand (SEANZ) is the industry organisation which promotes micro-scale renewable energy technologies, has information on domestic scale distributed generation. They also provide a renewable energy business directory, a Standards Guide for Renewable Energy, a distributed generation metering guide and copies of NIWA’s irradiance and wind maps of New Zealand.

EECA’s guide to buying solar water heating is here.

EECA currently still offer Energywise subsidies for insulation. Subsidies vary from $500 to $1200. Funding for efficient water heating (solar or heat pump water heating) and clean air funding (for heating via heat pumps or approved wood burners) has now ended. Changes to the insulation subsidies were announced in the Budget and the existing programme will end when funds run out (expected to be September 2013). From August 2013 details of the new programme targetting low-income communities will be announced.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is also participating in the scheme by providing financial assistance of up to $2,600 per ratepayer to help fund the remaining cost of home insulation over and above the grant provided by EECA. This can be repaid by way of a targeted rate over a 9-year period.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs are also known as CFL’s or energy-saver lightbulbs. Consumer magazine tested 19 different models to find out which shone brightest and lasted longest. The results are available for free. If you are concerned by reports about the mercury content in this type of bulb, a clean-up guide can be found on the Right Light website. If you want to find out more specifically about the Ecobulb in your launch bag, they have some useful information here.

CarboNZero is a NZ carbon calculator created by Landcare Research – you can work out your emissions for your household, your travel or your small enterprise. They also provide information on managing your carbon emissions and offer the option of offsetting your emissions.

Interested in small-scale hydro generation? Michael Layley of EcoInnovation in Taranaki is a bit of a legend for his pelton wheels made from recycled SmartDrive motors. That’s not all he does though and you can find more information including an online calculator, product and installation manuals, on his website (look under ‘hydro parts’ for the calculator and manuals).

Top Documentaries have documentaries relating to housing and energy use that can be downloaded for free:

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