There have been many improvements in the sustainability of new homes being built in New Zealand due to new technologies, increased insulation requirements and more awareness of the principles of passive design. However, according to recent research published by the University of Otago, the recent trend towards building larger houses is cancelling out the gains that have been made. Figures from Statistics New Zealand show that in the year ended August 1974, the average floor area for a new home was 110 m2, whereas in the year ended August 2016, the average floor area was 182 m2. Larger houses take more energy to heat, cool and light. So if you are looking to build sustainably, it makes sense to really think about how big a house you actually need.
Of course, technology is advancing all of the time and new ways of thinking may help us to power our homes more efficiently. One exciting new product on the market is the home battery, such as Tesla’s Powerwall, which costs approximately $10,000 plus installation. This technology enables you to store power from solar or other systems giving you the potential to meet the electricity needs of your home or have back-up power in the case of major outages.