Employing passive solar design principles will save money over the life of the house, making it both less expensive to run and more 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 also 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 in a new house.
How occupants use the house will determine how much energy they use. It is just as important that they understand how to make the heating, cooling and ventilation systems work efficiently, as it is to provide energy saving features.
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.