Feath­er­ing your nest

Room by room, you can trans­form your own home to be­come more live­able and far health­ier, both to the oc­cu­pants and the en­vi­ron­ment. Over the next 10 months El­e­ment em­barks on a step-by-step guide to a great home.

Element - - Home -

You’ve taken a look at the re­cent mar­ket val­u­a­tion of the house you thought you might just be able to buy and, now, in­stead, you’re won­der­ing whether it might just pay to stay put and plan a ‘renno’.

There are 1.6 mil­lion homes in New Zealand that can be im­proved – made more com­fort­able, warmer in win­ter, cooler in sum­mer and health­ier, while us­ing less en­ergy and water.

Liv­ing in an old home is no bar­rier to mak­ing it com­fort­able, tem­per­ate, dry and healthy for the oc­cu­pants. Some of the changes you can make to im­prove these con­di­tions are sub­sidised by the gov­ern­ment, such as im­prov­ing your in­su­la­tion.

In terms of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, older homes gen­er­ally don’t per­form as well, but again, there are a myr­iad of op­tions for im­prov­ing per­for­mance such as so­lar hot water heat­ing (also sub­sidised) and photo voltaic pan­els for pro­duc­ing your own en­ergy.

Con­vert­ing the con­sum­ables in your home from those that are dam­ag­ing to the en­vi­ron­ment – for ex­am­ple, types of bleach or wash­ing up liq­uid that flow away, even­tu­ally to the sea – is an­other pos­i­tive step, which is sim­ple, cost-ef­fec­tive and with no loss of ef­fec­tive­ness.

Be­fore you set some goals it is a good idea to get a mea­sure of your home’s per­for­mance. A great place to start is the homes­tar.co.nz web­site.

Homes­tar™ is a joint ven­ture part­ner­ship be­tween BRANZ and the New Zealand Green Build­ing Coun­cil. Led by these two or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als across the build­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tor have de­vel­oped a sin­gle res­i­den­tial rat­ing tool for New Zealand’s new and ex­ist­ing homes.

There are two parts to the Homes­tar™ ini­tia­tive. The first is a free, on­line rat­ing tool which gives you a good idea of the per­for­mance of your home. For more de­tail you can have an in­de­pen­dent cer­ti­fied as­sess­ment, af­ter which your home is awarded a cer­ti­fied rat­ing.

Time to set some goals: cre­ate a wish list of what im­prove­ments you’d like to make to your home, work out your bud­get, and pri­ori­tise the work.

The Healthy Homes Guide will ap­pear in El­e­ment for the next 10 months. In each fea­ture you can find hints on larger in­fras­truc­tural im­prove­ments, as well as prod­ucts that fill the bill.

El­e­ment is pub­lished on the last Mon­day of each month. March: Water & plumb­ing April: Heat­ing May: In­su­la­tion June: En­ergy, electrics and ap­pli­ances July: Air Qual­ity and VOCS Au­gust: Bath­rooms Septem­ber: Laun­dry Oc­to­ber: Kitchen Novem­ber: Bed­rooms De­cem­ber: The room out­side Jan­uary: Nat­u­ral swim­ming pools

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