Comfortable and warm households with Energy Efficient Homes

Energy Efficient Homes can design and build an energy efficient home for virtually the same cost as a standard home.

As Christchurch builder Robert Whitehouse fulfills his personal mission to provide Kiwis with warm, healthy, energy-efficient homes, he has rebranded his business from Whitehouse Builders to Energy Efficient Homes to build a better future for his clients.

“Our main business now is by far Energy Efficient Homes,” Robert says. “The market is changing, and the changes that are coming mean everyone is going to have to be building energy-efficient homes.”

If the purpose of a house is to keep people sheltered from the elements outside, the New Zealand building code falls short by a fair distance. “If you build a house to standard in New Zealand, it will merely mimic the temperatures you have outside. We’ve got to be building above those standards.”

With New Zealand’s signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, we have pledged to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels. Our Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is now in the process of changing the building code in a step-by-step process in pursuit of that target. Robert says the impending changes mean building a new home to code no longer makes sense.

When the average length of time someone stays in their new home is eight years, a home built to code is going to be so below standard by that time it’s going to be a really tough sell. “It will be like trying to sell a house now with single glazing: no one wants it.”

“The sustainability rhetoric is hammered into us everywhere we go, and it’s on people’s minds all the time now.”

Energy Efficient Homes can design and build an energy-efficient home for virtually the same cost as a standard home when including the overall cost of running a home. “If you build a standard home, you’ll pay the additional cost and probably more to the energy company instead.”

He did his own calculations when he rented an energy-efficient home he had built for a client for 12 months and saved just under $50 per week on his power bills. The home had $50,000 worth of energy-efficient features, and the interest rate at the time was 6.5% or $62 per week.

“So it cost us $12 a week to live in that house, but I was counting on two things that I knew were going to happen: as soon as the cost of electricity went up and the interest rates went down, we were in the positive.”

With Energy Efficient Homes’ 12-month maintenance contract, Robert gets to revisit each client once they’ve enjoyed their new home for all four seasons. The comments are always the same. Their home is so comfortable and every room is warm, their physical health has improved and symptoms of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, rheumatism, arthritis and allergies have reduced; their energy bills are low; and they would never go back to living in a home that wasn’t energy efficient.

Now operating under its new name, Energy Efficient Homes is busy when everyone else is quiet. “This is all the market is looking for. The sustainability rhetoric is hammered into us everywhere we go, and it’s on people’s minds all the time now.”

Energy Efficient Homes is expanding and looking for people to train in the right way to build energy-efficient homes. Even experienced builders will be trained in the installation of energy-efficient materials. “We take on apprentices and teach them the tricks of the trade, how to achieve good airtightness and how to be a good builder. If they’ve got the right attitude, we can show them the skills, and they’ll always have a job.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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