Christchurch Agency for Energy

Helping our city use energy wisely


CAfE is the official energy agency for Christchurch. We are committed to developing Christchurch as an energy-smart city.

Smart energy living

Fri, 17/06/2011 - 1:12pm -- sam

In the past houses were designed and then built on land to sit in the middle of the land and face the street.  Bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms were positioned according to the plan, not where the sun tends to be or where the prevailing wind blows.  Houses were built without insulation, and with very little thought of using the sun to light or heat the property.

As modern design techniques have been developed, and architects, builders and planners have learnt more, houses are changing.

Architects and planners are becoming increasingly proficient in the many new technologies to construct buildings that have low energy usage and use natural cooling and heating. Buildings that have lower operating energy use save power.  Design features such as highly energy efficient windows and insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors can be retrofitted.

Siting of new buildings and houses and walls to get optimal benefits from the sun, particularly in winter, are part of what is known as passive solar building design. This also includes use of effective window placement, and design so that heat is trapped or released and where possible convection is used to circulate warm air.

Addition of alternative energy sources such as solar water heating is also important in energy efficient building and retro-fitting.

CAfE will be involved with building and rebuilding design possibilities and will offer a service to the building industry whereby heating, comfort and health will be worked into all stages of construction.

There are three key elements to smart energy houses.

1. Energy-efficient design, building or alterations create smart houses. Houses and buildings that are designed for the sun, make the best use of light and heat, are insulated, and have solar water heating, save energy.  These buildings ideally need to have permanent heating which makes best use of energy options. Features such as sky-lights, double glazing and optimal room size and internal doors are also major contributors.

2. Having a sustainability plan for alterations or new building is important. This is about using the right materials that will conserve heat and adapt to a range of environmental conditions.  Design can ensure buildings don’t ‘leak’ heat, and those that do either in the short or longer term will use more energy. 

3. Energy conscious interiors using appliances with high energy efficiency ratings are an important contributing factor is making the best use of energy.  Heating and clothes and dish cleaning should be energy smart. Furnishings, in particular curtains and carpets, can be appropriate to the structure and the spaces within it.