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Thought you couldn’t afford to incorporate more sustainable living solutions into your homebuyers’ or renovation budget? Think again. 

When it comes to sustainable living it’s a fallacy that it’s too expensive upfront for the average homeowner, says director of Solarchitect, Russell Devlin.

Russell notes it’s all about budgeting and designing smart solutions, and while people have the right idea about wanting to be more sustainable, they are asking the wrong questions.

It’s not a matter of ‘Can I afford to incorporate sustainable solutions?’ but rather, ‘What kind of sustainable solutions can I achieve within my budget?’

Russell points out that sustainable solutions can be found at all levels and incorporating them may be easier and cheaper than you realise, particularly when it comes to energy management.

There are two key areas people should look to first when integrating sustainable energy solutions into the home:


The process of heating and cooling a house can use excess energy from simply not having the appropriate combination of insulation and ventilation solutions for the setting.

Insulation must be balanced with the right ventilation so the house can breathe when it becomes too warm. If it can’t breathe, it overheats, becomes humid and this results in condensation, and people end up spending more energy and money ventilating and cooling the place back down.

Similarly, if you install an advanced heating solution but your house lacks insulation, you will notice in your power bill that the heating works on overdrive trying to fill those voids.

“You have to insulate to stay warmer, but you have to provide for some form of ventilation. In some houses it’s easier, in older houses they’ve got a natural degree of leaky air so it varies.

“However – if you seal a house up you’re going to get condensation problems – so what do you do? In a new house you would get double glazing, but in an existing house we’d say it’s incredibly expensive to retrofit double glazing and you’re probably better off initially to have good thermal curtains.

“Remember – you should never use your heat pump for cooling!” Russell says, it’s a money-and energy-sucking trap.


When it comes to lighting we consider it as warm or cool lighting. Warm, or more yellow lighting, is ideal for creating a warm allure and trapping heat within homes, while cool, or more blue lighting, helps to prevent a space from absorbing too much heat.

LED over incandescent lighting uses 90 percent less energy and these days it’s quite affordable, so a simple change from traditional light fittings to LED can deliver huge savings.

Solarchitect is a Christchurch-based architecture firm offering homeowners’ access to a range of clever sustainable living solutions. At the Canterbury Home Show in October, Solarchitect will be presenting its completely self-sufficient Net Energy Zero (NEOTM) home.

By providing Solarchitect with your site information, it can arrange a free initial meeting that includes design proposal. From there it provides clients with a single, low-cost design fee with sketch plans and perspective views, and a build-to-budget figure will be confirmed.

This all-inclusive, fixed-price build contract breaks away from the typical mould of costing architecturally-designed homes retrospectively and opens up a more accessible avenue for connecting homeowners with sustainable solutions.


Solarchitect (03) 377 4315


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