IDEAL House – New Zealand

Project Goals: Certified Passive House, Positive Energy & 8/10 Homestar design. Proudly supported by IDEAL Electrical Suppliers.


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Finally the moment we have been waiting for…and more!

The moment we have been waiting for since we started this project around three and a half years ago has finally arrived. And more…

After a monumental effort from Denise Henkenhaf and Paula Hugens from EZED in Queenstown, plus some last minute assistance from Jason Quinn at Sustainable Engineering in Wanganui, plus many more helpers and sponsors along the journey, we have been awarded one of the first Passive House PLUS certifications in New Zealand! (Actually #2, and hopefully joined shortly by another in Christchurch). 

We are officially ID reference “6133_MosArt_PH_20170713_TOL”.

What we didn’t realize when we added the 8kW (32 PV panels) to the roof during construction from Power Tech, is that the Passive House Institute were getting ready to launch two new levels of Certification. PLUS and PREMIUM. The addition of the local power generation, combined with the lower energy usage of the home has allowed us to reach this coveted new level of certification. We also added higher levels of insulation during construction than what was on the original plans and modeling, and the additional assistance from the Earthwool glasswool also helped get us over the line. Once those walls are closed up, there’s no going back later! Insulate as high as you can while you have the chance.

More information on the Passive House PLUS certification can be found here.

Thank you to all the people that have helped us on this journey, and we hope that what we have done and shared will help others to create more efficient and sustainable homes in New Zealand for generations to come.

Next goal? We can get the Homestar design rating from NZGBC off the shelf, dust it off, and now get the home re-rated again under the new Homestar V4 which is due out very shortly. We have been waiting on our Passive House certification, to cross credit with the thermal performance criteria of Homestar. It will be interesting to see how the house now stacks up, perhaps an 8 or 9/10 rating, we shall see. But it’s not just about the rating scale, we’ve been enjoying the performance enhancements that were made to the house during design and construction following the process two and a half years ago, and we’re so glad we decided to go down this journey.

For those technical geeks, the full certification file can be downloaded and viewed by clicking here 3188 Certification PHA – Granted ID, or on the image below.

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Blow-in glasswool & Summary Sheets

I was just talking to a designer working on a new Passive House for a customer in Taupo, and we had a great discussion around all things high performance. Interesting that he was looking to use 140mm external framing (no nogs or dwangs), rigid air barrier on the outside, and 45mm cross battens for the internal cavity. This is my favourite construction. In this situation, the only product I would use for the external framing would be Jet Stream MAX from Knauf Insulation. It goes in dry, and can’t settle in the walls over the lifetime of the building, and can provide a higher R-value (R4.3) than any standard batts in the market, and perfect when you have deep cavities with long vertical runs. It’s also Codemark certified, so a breeze through local Council. We also discussed the benefits of using this in the midfloors and his skillion roof also. If I was to build again, this is the only insulation product I’d use without question:

http://www.knaufinsulation.co.nz/en/content/jet-stream-max#tab_6

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I also emailed the designer copies of the signage which we had displayed in the house, and thought these would make great summary sheets for everything on this website, without having to trawl through the posts. So here they are! (Click to download).

A4 Summary Sheets

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A3 Summary Sheets

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Remember, the Building Code is a minimum, not a target!


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June update

It’s been a very warm June, but temperatures are now starting to fall. We’re really pleased with how the home is performing this winter after some tweaking to the ventilation system earlier in the year. We’ve had two fires so far this year, but we cooked the home and had to open the windows, otherwise we haven’t run any heating. Great to see temperatures holding up above 20 and humidity well down on outside. Temperatures bouncing over 20 remind me of a stone skipping across water. I’ve been trying to get the kids to wear PJ’s to bed (given it’s June), but they just strip them off and complain they’ll get too hot. What an environment to grow up in! (And my coffee tree is doing really well as well).

Ideal House temps June 2016

Ideal House, Humidity June 2016


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Open Home Sunday 8th May

What better way to spend Mother’s Day than to visit a Positive Energy house! It’s an unusually warm autumn (sensors showed a ‘low’ last night outside of around 19 degrees) so you won’t get the full experience of inside/outside differential, but there’s still plenty to look at and learn.

For those that cannot make Friday the 6th at 10am, the home will also be open Sunday the 8th May at 2pm. Please RSVP to hello@idealhouse.org if you plan to attend.

Sensors April 2016


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Ecotricity & Open Home 6th May

We have had ongoing issues with our metering and grid connection since we moved in due to an error when we were first put on the national register, however we were recently recommended Ecotricity. They have since made all our problems go away. We just finished our first month with them and I am impressed. Although we have a small contribution to make (essentially paying for the privilege to use the grid as a battery) I think $38.83 for a month’s power for the home is not too bad for 3 adults and two kids. Interesting in April we imported 273kWh, and exported 768kWh. A good production month.

Our next open home is this Friday the 6th of May at 10am. Please RSVP to hello@idealhouse.org if you plan to attend.

Ecotricity April Bill


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Filming, April Temperatures & Power

It’s nice to feel some bite in the air in the morning now (when we step outside), and also to see the outside temperature monitor start dipping lower and lower each night. Autumn is definitely beginning and winter is not far away. The reading dropped to 13.59 degrees C this morning before sunrise, while we were enjoying comfortable 21-23 inside. Now is the time of year that we start to appreciate building higher than Code, and we’ll start to close up the windows and revert back to rely primarily on our balanced heat-exchanged ventilation system.

We have filming again on Friday for the Living Green TV Show, due to air later this year, so we’re adding some final touches to the home. When that is complete we will announce some more open home dates.

April 2016 2

We’ve also plotted all the energy consumption and production (import and export), and are showing a nice gap proving we are definitely positive energy. The below graph has the import in blue, and export in red.

The first six months we were charging an electric vehicle, however it does not seem to have made a significant difference. Interesting is that our consumption is very flat through the year, as we haven’t used any dedicated heating (an occasional wood fire, more for ambience), so the extra power will be more lighting during the shorter days and more use of the dryer. I’m keen to do some digging around and see the variation between summer and winter for homes in our area which rely on heat-pumps to heat their homes.

We have also just changed over to Ecotricity, and their service has been amazing. They come highly recommended.

Ideal House readings