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When designing a new home, some simple upgrades can improve its performance. These go beyond the minimums required by the NZ Building Code and can help to:

  • keep temperatures more comfortable for longer
  • use fewer resources such as energy and water
  • make it cheaper to run.

How to use

1. Confirm the budget with your client.
2. Determine the theme(s) you and your client want to address:

3. Pick the desired features with your client, up to the budget. 
4. Develop an accurate quote.

 

Comfortable temperatures

The following improvements will help make the house more comfortable while needing less heating or cooling over the year, therefore saving on energy costs. (Note that an accurate ‘yearly savings' figure cannot be determined by adding two or more thermal improvements together.)

THERMAL improvementextra costyearly savingsthermal benefit
House orientation
   
Living areas facing north, garage facing south
Marginal$100Good
Ceiling insulation
   
R4.0 bulk ceiling insulation (upgraded from R3.2)
$230$60Good
R4.6 bulk ceiling insulation (upgraded from R3.2)
$1,300$100Good
R5.0 bulk ceiling insulation (upgraded from R3.2)$1,600$120Very good
Windows   
Thermally broken aluminium-framed windows
$1,900$160Very good
Standard (non-thermally broken) double glazing with low-E coating$1,780$240Very good
Thermally broken, aluminium framed, double glazing with low-E coating
$4,100$400Excellent
Insulated concrete slab   
50 mm expanded S-grade polystyrene insulation, continuous, under entire slab (i.e. not pod-style)
$2,500 $350Excellent
50 mm expanded S-grade polystyrene insulation, under entire slab (i.e. not pod-style) and 20 mm polystyrene around perimeter
$3,900$410Excellent
Combinations   
50 mm expanded polystyrene insulation under slab + exposed slab in living areas
$3,200$310Excellent 
As above, but with 20 mm insulation around perimeter
$4,600$390Excellent
50 mm expanded polystyrene insulation under slab + R2.8 walls + R4 ceiling + low-E glazing
$6,300$710Outstanding
As above, but with thermally broken frames as well
$8,600$860Outstanding

The extra cost refers to the costs over and above what a more standard component or system would typically cost to purchase initially. The yearly savings are a result of the lower need for space conditioning energy use only. Figures are based on the needs of typical spec homes.  

Energy efficiency

The following improvements will help make the house cheaper to run. (Individual improvements can be added together to provide combined extra costs and yearly savings.)

ENERGY improvementextra costyearly savings 
(per household)
energy benefit
Renewables
   
Photovoltaic-ready house (installing cabling only)
$400NANA
Photovoltaic-ready house (installing cabling only)
$10,000(see note 1)(see note 1)
Appliances and lighting   
4 Energy Star fridge-freezer (380 litres)
$100$60Good
Correctly sized heat pump2
$0$210Very good
All lighting energy efficient (CFL or LED)
$650$150Very good

1. Savings are difficult to determine given the rapid photovoltaic (PV) price changes and a number of other factors. See the Photovoltaic (PV) Design fact sheet for more information. 
2. See the EECA Energywise heater sizing calculator to properly size a heat pump for your specific house.

The extra cost refers to the costs over and above what a more standard component or system would typically cost to purchase initially. The yearly savings is the estimated benefit in lowered energy costs resulting from better appliance efficiencies.

Water management

The following improvements will help to manage water resources better. As Christchurch's supply and wastewater council charges are based on capital value, the suggested improvements below are based on the most cost-effective solutions from usage-based councils.

WATER improvementextra costyearly savings
(per household)
water benefit
Small fittings and appliances
   
4 star or better WELS3 toilets
Marginal1,600 litresGood
4 star WELS kitchen + bathroom tapware
Marginal2,300 litresGood
4 star or better shower heads
Marginal57,100 litresExcellent
Rainwater tank systems
   
1,000 litre water tank with feed pump to garden
$2,40063,000 litresExcellent

3. WELS = Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme.  

The extra cost refers to the costs over and above what a more standard component or system would typically cost. The yearly savings is the estimated benefit in terms of saved water over a typical year given typical occupants. 

Background

The performance upgrades are based on independent research by BRANZ and are region specific where possible. Only the most cost-effective improvements have been selected, based on homes consented in 2012. The cost and benefit figures are averages derived from actual consented plans and take inflation and returns into account. All figures are estimates and should be seen as starting points for discussions.

Once the upgrades have been chosen, the estimated figures for extra costs will need to be more accurately determined and will vary depending on the specific design.

If you would like the detail on how this was calculated, including the full (unfiltered) list of improvement upgrades considered, see the background document Up-Spec: Background Research

The figures in the regional checklists consider those costs and benefits that are reasonably easy to quantify. Harder to quantify - but that might be even more important to the owner - are the:

  • health and comfort benefits from having a warmer, drier home 
  • improved resilience and self-sufficiency for the home
  • Homestar points resulting from the upgrades. 

Ideally, these other benefits should also be considered as part of the decision-making process. 

Feedback 

We'd like hear from you - please provide feedback via [email protected]