ARTICLE Libby Schultz IMAGE The Fireplace

There are two reasons you’ll need a bigger warm-up budget – either you want to use premium products, or you have a large home to heat.

“For a large house of 300 sqm or more, you can basically triple the cost of everything like insulation, glazing and heating,” says Ella Te Huia of Smart Energy Homes.

“Some top-end homes can spend $150,000 on windows alone.”

When choosing double or triple-glazing, look for products with an EnergyStar rating. To be super-cosy, you also need to stop heat escaping through the actual frames of your windows and doors. You can do this by installing ‘thermally-broke’ joinery, which works on a similar principle to double-glazing.

How can I heat up my whole house?

So you want a home that’s consistently warm throughout, with no cold spots or chilly areas underfoot? There are two main ways to centrally heat your home. You can either warm up the floor, or spread the heat into other rooms via the ceiling.

Hydronic underfloor heating is best installed as part of a new build or a renovation, as the hot water pipes are laid in the concrete slab. You then heat water using your preferred source of energy – gas, heat pump, solar, or a diesel boiler.

Ella Te Huia says hydronic heating is cost-effective for large areas, but for small spaces like a bathroom, it’s cheaper to go electric.

If you have ceramic tile floors, you can keep things cosy with under-tile heating. Electric cables are laid between your floor foundations and your tiles; so it can be easy to install as part of a renovation.

Ducted central heating transfers warm air to rooms throughout the house. The heating unit (whether it’s a compressor or a heat pump) generates warm air that is pumped through duct grilles located around the house. It’s a nicer-looking solution, as the actual heating unit is located out-of-sight.

If you’re not sure which ducted heat pump solution to choose, looking for an Energy Star rating is a good place to start.

Lastly, if you have a decent-sized wood-burner, you can use that for central heating. You can either spread the warmth via a heat transfer system (see previous article); or by heating water-filled radiators installed throughout the house.

Solar panels in your home is a top end solution for heating up your home.

How much does it cost to install a solar power system?

It’s pure, clean, endless and free…what’s not to love about solar power?

SkySolar managing director Nick Freeman says over 8,000 Kiwi households have already made the move to solar, and the numbers continue to grow.

Although power companies have dropped their buy-back rate in recent times, a solar system can still pay for itself with 5-7 years. Even more exciting, the team behind SkySolar have developed some ground-breaking technology that allows home-owners to use more of the solar power they produce (rather than selling it back to the grid).

Ella Te Huia recently advised a home-owner in Kerikeri who has installed a 10-kilowatt solar system and wind turbine – and will be among the first in New Zealand to own a Tesla PowerWall.

Produced by the same company as the famous Tesla electric car, the PowerWall is a wall-mounted lithium-ion battery that stores solar power for the home. 

Elon Musk, Tesla’s high-profile CEO, predicts his technology will deliver solar power on a global scale. Just as cell phones have replaced the need for landlines, he says, solar batteries will eliminate the need to install electricity in remote parts of the world.

What are things to consider when adding a fireplace to my home?

For sheer romance and visual appeal, there’s one source of home heating that’s a clear winner.

“A fireplace is the heart of the home,” says Christina Cairns of The Fireplace in Auckland.

“It’s also a beautiful piece of furniture…you can design and personalise the décor to suit your individual style, making it something really unique.”

Christina says the fireplace should always be the focal point of the room. Although there’s been a recent trend to wall-mounting the television above the fireplace, she says this is not recommended by TV manufacturers.

If you hanker for a real-wood fire, make sure you choose one that’s on the Ministry for the Environment’s list of ‘authorised wood burners’. Under New Zealand’s Clear Air strategy, any wood burner installed on a property less than two hectares, must discharge less than 1.5 grams of particles for each kilo of dry wood burned. (These requirements are stricter in some Council regions).

Eco Design Adviser Richard Popenhagen says the next generation of ultra-low emission wood burners – which burn in two chambers – are set to become increasingly popular.

No modern designer home would be complete without some kind of outdoor fireplace. One of the newest models at The Fireplace is the multi-talented Jet Master Quadro; which combines a wood fire, bbq/grill tray, a pizzeria box, and a pot-hook for cooking South African-style potjiekos.

A modern electric fireplace adds warmth and character to your home.

Can I warm up my home with LED bulbs?

Do you switch out your interior décor between summer and winter? Next time you bring out the cashmere throws and winter-weight cushions, consider swapping out your light bulbs as well.

As Kim Reiche from Refresh Renovations explains, you can adjust your home’s ‘colour temperature’ with the type of LED bulbs you use. Lights less than 3,000 Kelvin units are yellowish-brown and create a warm ambience (while those over 5,000K are a cooling brighter white).

“It’s a big thing in Europe…home-owners will often change out their light bulbs from winter to summer. In New Zealand, we tend to use the warmer temperatures all year-round.”

Home automation systems give you finger-touch control over the way you heat your home. As well as pre-programming everything to run more efficiently (such as automatically adjusting the temperature before you arrive home), it can network with other comfort-creating devices (like lowering your window shades at the hottest time of day).

In other cool technology, the iSmart Hot Water ControllerTM is a Kiwi invention, which lets you manage your water heating via an LCD touchscreen. At a cost of $1300 supplied and installed, the iSmart Controller has a payback period of between 2.5-3 years.

“Hot water accounts for about a third of our power bills,” says Ella.

For more warm-up options and prices for smaller budgets, read our basic or mid-range estimates.

Renovate Magazine LogoThis home renovation advice article by Libby Shultz featured in Issue 019 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Refresh Renovations specialist. All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.

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