Airtight homes bring health benefits

Airtight homes bring health benefits
Key components of Ethos Homes houses include thicker walls, thicker insulation, thermally broken windows, an airtight membrane, and a mechanical ventilation system.

Christchurch’s Ethos Homes delicately balances the national Kiwi architectural flavour with the advancing technology of energy-efficient and passive houses to build healthy, sustainable, cost-effective homes which are tailored to suit the individual needs of each client.
Ethos Homes is a family owned and operated business by Guy Gillespie and Peter Bielski, who between them, have building experience spanning nearly 40 years.
Guy has run his successful local building company Character Builders for the past 17 years, while Peter has spent time building in Germany where he was involved in building at least 15 homes for the highly esteemed Weberhaus prefabrication company.
He brought home his experience in building energy efficient and passive houses, which have been enjoyed in Europe for many years. In New Zealand however, it is a fairly new concept.
Peter’s wife Amanda says this is most apparent with studies indicating as many as 50% of New Zealand homes may have mould in them, and by our country having one of the world’s highest occurrences of asthma, allergies, and respiratory illness.
“At Ethos Homes, we are all about building homes that exceed New Zealand’s standard building code,” she says.
“New builds made to satisfy the New Zealand Building code minimum standards have a high number of air changes per hour with significant heat loss through poor design, poor construction methods, and poor materials. Ethos Homes are built airtight, with marginal air changes per hour. Our homes require little energy to heat and maintain their pleasant temperature.”
She says as a company, Ethos Homes wants to build with integrity, and to a higher standard.
It uses some key components in its construction to achieve this, including thicker walls, thicker insulation, thermally broken windows, an airtight membrane, and a mechanical ventilation system.
The biggest benefits to clients are around the warmth and comfort levels of their homes, and the positive effects of a warm and dry home on their health and their power bills.
The design elements of energy-efficient housing significantly reduce the levels of dust, moisture, and pollen that can affect the health of the home’s occupants. Daily activities like cooking, showering and even breathing increase the levels of humidity in the home.
“For optimal health, humidity levels should be below 60%, and ideally between 40% to 50%” Amanda says.
“An important element of an Ethos Homes is the controlled mechanical ventilation which continuously replaces stale, humid, or otherwise polluted indoor air with fresh filtered outdoor air.”
Ethos Homes makes it affordable to have a minimum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius all year round.
“With an airtight home it is easy to achieve and maintain 20 degrees throughout the entire house, no temperature variations from room to room and no cold drafts,” Amanda says.
She says that Ethos Homes understands the difference between ‘optimum’ and ‘realistic’. The company provides its clients with variable solutions to achieve an energy-efficient home on a realistic budget.
“Our continuum begins with our standard Ethos build, which is well beyond New Zealand building code standards, and advances through to internationally recognised passive certified homes.
“We can even take it a step further to become self sufficient or off the national grid. “It’s up to you the level of efficiency you want to achieve.”
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