Employing passive solar design will save money over the life of the house, making it less expensive to run and healthy to live in. This means designing your house to maximise the ability of the natural environment to heat and cool the house. Healthy and efficient house design will require balancing heating from the sun, making sure heat does not leak out, while ensuring the inside of the house is naturally ventilated.
Extra insulation will lower heating and cooling costs and is an excellent return on investment. Insulation costs nothing to maintain or run, and is simple and cost effective to install, particularly in a new house.
How occupants use the house will determine how much energy is consumed. It is just as important that occupants understand how to save energy as it is to provide energy saving features.
The size of the house will determine how efficient it is to run, and how sustainable it is. Auckland’s houses are getting larger, yet our households are getting smaller. Good design is to plan efficiently and build the right size to meet the needs of the occupants.
There are a number of tools available that provide guidance on how to design and build more sustainably. One of these is New Zealand's own Homestar tool which has been developed by the New Zealand Green Building Council in collaboration with BRANZ, to enable homeowners and house builders to evaluate and benchmark the sustainable performance of their homes. Using one of these throughout the design process will help to ensure the house is energy efficient and cheap to run.Homestar has also recently been incorporated into the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, requiring developments comprising of more than 5 houses to achieve a minimum of a 6 star Homestar Rating.