A warm home is a healthy home. We review the options for heating your home.
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Household air temperature should ideally be between 20 and 24°C, and not drop below 18°C, but New Zealand homes are often much colder than this. When temperatures drop below 16°C, levels of condensation, mould and mildew increase, resulting in an increased risk of respiratory diseases. Keeping the home warm reduces the build up of moisture.
Good insulation, ventilation, heating and cooling will give you a more comfortable and healthy home to live in. When homes are cold, conditions such as asthma are worse and people’s resistance to infectious diseases seems to be lower.
Clause E3 Internal moisture of the Building Code requires safeguards against 'fungal growth or the accumulation of contaminants on linings and other building elements'. Fungi, in the form of moulds or rot can endanger human health. Fungi grow best in damp environments. Having a warm home keeps it drier and gives fungi less opportunity to grow.
Another health risk is from dust mites which accumulate in carpet, underlays and soft furnishings. They can bring about allergic reactions. There are treated carpets on the market that help eliminate common triggers of allergies and provide effective control of bacteria, mould, mildew and fungi.
When thinking about heating systems for your new home, you need to consider:
There are two types of heating - passive and non-passive. We outline the non-passive options below. For information about passive options, see Passive design for energy efficiency.
Non-passive heating uses an artificially supplied energy source. The options include:
Tip: All woodburners installed after 1 September 2005 in buildings on a section smaller than two hectares must be designed to have a discharge of less than 1.5 grams of particles for each kilogram of dry wood burnt, and a thermal efficiency of not less than 65%. See reg 22 of the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards Relating to Certain Air Pollutants, Dioxins, and Other Toxics) Regulations 2004. For more information about National Environment Standards see the Ministry for the Environment website. It includes information about woodburners that meet the Regulations. Woodburners can also be used with a ‘wetback’ which heats the domestic water supply and saves on gas or electricity. Care needs to be taken when using water heated by a wetback as it can get extremely hot. It is a Building Code requirement that hot water must be delivered at a temperature that avoids the likelihood of scalding (G12.3.6).
Alison had a heat pump installed in her new home. The heat pump agent studied the house plans and advised on the right model. Alison has found the costs of running the pump reasonable and is happy with its performance. It heats the area evenly and is easy to use. It can be automatic or she can alter it manually to suit the weather conditions. It filters the air rather than adding dust to the atmosphere and can be set to cool in hot weather.
For about $800, Phil and Natalie had a heat transfer unit installed in their ceiling cavity. It operates off a variable thermostat, has its own isolation switch in the ceiling, and distributes heat from a sun-drenched lounge into bedrooms. The bedrooms, on the eastern side of the home, were previously colder than the rest of the house all year.
Now the whole house is warmer and the bedrooms are heated for no more than the cost of running a fan in the ceiling, using the heat from sunlight alone. The only downsides are the sound of the air being sucked into the unit in the lounge, and the bedroom outlets can create a little too much breeze.
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