Christchurch eco house is passive

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Andrew and Katy Marriott in their “passive house”. It doesn’t require heating or cooling.

Climate change means New Zealanders have to get smarter about energy use. A Christchurch family have chipped in with a new home that’s airtight and requires almost no heating or cooling. WILL HARVIE reports.

Remember that day just before Christmas when temperatures in Christchurch soared past 36 degrees Celsius? There was little wind, people drooped and complained. There seemed to be no respite.

Over at Andrew and Katy Marriott’s new home in Fendalton, inside temperatures were a pleasant 23C. And they didn’t have air conditioning or the heatpump working in reverse. They don’t own a heat pump.

Rather the Marriotts built a “passive house” — a German technique that uses triple-glazed windows, extra thick walls, abundant insulation and other technologies to create an airtight and energy-efficient building. The result is a constant temperature — winter and summer, day and night — of 20-odd degrees.

“We wanted a low-energy house and our architect said he’s never built a passive house before and would we like to go on an adventure with him,” says Andrew Marriott. They did.

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While windows are generally small, the dinning room gets plenty of natural light.

From the outside, their new build is contemporary Fendalton: a 347 square metre, four-bedroom, two-storey weatherboard house hidden down a driveway. Inside, it’s got a clean modern look with hardwood floors, timber window frames and stainless steel appliances. Don’t go looking for a composting toilet, there isn’t one.

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