'Little Greenie' tops NZ eco homes
04 Aug 2009
A remote holiday cottage on the northern end of the Abel Tasman track in the South Island has become New Zealand’s most energy efficient house.
The cottage, named ‘Little Greenie’, is one of a growing number of eco-friendly properties throughout New Zealand, and was recently awarded a nine out of ten star rating by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
No other home in New Zealand has ever been given such a high rating.
Energy efficient design
The rating system measures how well design, materials and solar orientation enable a house to maintain a healthy and comfortable indoor temperature throughout the year.
The EECA rating also covers efficiency in water heating, and 'Little Greenie' was given 10/10 with running costs estimated at just NZ$41 per year.
With LED lights and extra insulation the cottage’s total electricity bills should be about NZ$20 a month.
The energy efficient home is designed with four major principles in mind - energy efficiency, low maintenance / longevity, ease of construction and value for money.
Owner Lawrence McIntyre, a former Christchurch businessman, says he hopes people will visit the house so they can see how they could build one themselves.
"The difference between insulating a house the way I have and the way another house is, is probably only NZ$3000 to $4000 and the insulation value is more than double," he said.
"People are quite happy to put flash stereos in their cars or spend $20,000 to $30,000 on a kitchen but they'll scrimp on 20ml of insulation."
Mr McIntyre said the main thing was to keep the heat in by having as few joins as possible and plugging every tiny gap.
The design of the house was kept simple with no fancy features so every extra dollar could go into materials.
A solar system provides most of the heating and hot water, and a composting toilet sucks fresh air from a vent above the shower each time the toilet is used, so there is no smell and a flow of new air is maintained.
High quality double-glazed windows stop heat escaping, along with wool insulation and a polystyrene break to stop the concrete floor touching the ground. Sun-warmed air is directed into the walls for storage and to release heat.
Staying eco-style in New Zealand
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