I have decided to have energy saving houses as a theme this week as many people I know are building new homes and trying to make them as energy efficient as possible. My youngest sister and her husband have relocated and refurbished a house onto a few hectares of land and will be off the grid and largely self sufficient. They wanted to install a composting toilet and recycle all their grey water but the costs of local body compliance has been huge and they have had to compromise on many of their ideas that would have worked had they not been so expensive to progress.
I have tried to make my own early 30s bungalow more energy efficient and we have installed solar water heating and have underfloor and above ceiling insulation. I found the paperwork and compliance costs for the water heating excessive and can understand why solar heating hasn't got much support for those wishing to retrofit. I also felt rather discouraged when I completed a Homestar energy efficiency survey of our house only to discover that, after all that we had done, we still only scored a 2 out of 10. If we only got a 2 then many homes in Invercargill must be 1 or 0, we have a long way to go to bring our housing up to anything like a reasonable standard.
The government has no commitment to improving the quality of New Zealand housing and we have a huge shortfall of low cost, quality homes in Auckland and Christchurch especially. I'm sure, given the quality of our architects and designers we could come up with some great housing solutions, our students even got a third placing in a eco home design competition in the US recently. Our housing is generally overpriced, inefficient and poorly designed and I thought the links and images below may help to show what we could be doing: