In any building, comfort and energy goals are often intertwined. Having a healthy and comfortable indoor environment during the winter usually requires the use of mechanical heating systems, which in turn result in high electricity bills during this time of year.
When Shay Brazier and Jo Woods started thinking about building a home for them and their family, they knew they wanted a house that was comfortable year-round and warm throughout in winter, with no cold pockets. They also knew they wanted to do this without the use of heating or cooling systems, something that would also help them achieve their Zero Energy goal.
Because of their backgrounds in the construction industry, Shay and Jo were aware that this could be accomplished with good design and the use of the right products and materials, especially in a temperate climate such as Auckland’s. This is how they did it.
The Zero Energy House was designed to be warm without the need for heating. For Shay and Jo, this had two key benefits:
Passive heating has been achieved through the following methods which are explained in detail on other pages of the website:
In the summertime and also in the shoulder seasons, shading is used to control how much heat from the sun enters into a building so that internal temperatures don’t reach uncomfortable levels. Shading, along with ventilation, are essential for optimum temperature control on warm days.
Typical shading features come in the following forms:
During summer, the mid-afternoon western sun is the most warming and therefore, in the Zero Energy House, western glazing has been kept to a minimum. In winter, the early afternoon western sun is the most warming and enters the house through the northern glazing (as the sun’s trajectory in winter is further to the north).
Shay and Jo included the following shading options on the design of their house:
As mentioned above, ventilation is also essential for optimum temperature control on warm days and is important for the following reasons:
Shay and Jo decided to keep ventilation in the Zero Energy House simple but effective. They use natural ventilation throughout with mechanical ventilation in high-moisture areas such as bathrooms (extractor fan), laundry (decentralised heat recovery ventilation) and kitchen (rangehood).
The design of the house included the following features to provide good natural ventilation:
For natural ventilation to be effective, it’s important for Shay and Jo to use their house mindfully. While keeping good ventilation levels is fairly easy for most of the year, it needs a little more consideration in the winter to maintain reasonable internal temperatures. It is a good idea, for example, to open the windows when there are high internal gains (like when there’s lots of people around or when someone is cooking a big dinner), or on a sunny winter morning when there will be sufficient solar gain throughout the day to reheat the house.
In order to remove moisture, the following practises need to be considered:
Through the use of passive heating, shading and ventilation the Zero Energy House remains at comfortable indoor temperatures throughout the year without relying on heating or cooling systems. Equally important though is the mindful use of the house by the people who live there. Opening the windows at the right times and turning on exhaust fans when moisture is being produced, among other small actions, keep indoor air healthy and help Shay and Jo to keep warm in winter and cool in summer.
Got any questions you want us to answer in the article?
Or use the same button to subscribe and find out when the article is released.