Building your home from the ground up is an exciting process. You can tailor your home according to your unique tastes and needs. Dreaming of an ensuite bathroom? Or a shed to store all your tools? Perhaps you’ve always wanted a sunny reading nook?
You’ll likely make hundreds of different decisions when building a new home. Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between needs versus wants.
But when it comes down to it, most people end up prioritising features that make their homes warm, dry and comfortable. It might mean you need to forgo your rain shower for double glazing, but you’ll be thankful you did come winter!
Keeping your home snug and energy-efficient requires careful preparation during the building process. Below are our top five home comfort features that you might want to consider when building your new home.
1. Double down on double glazing
While windows can create a better indoor-outdoor flow for your home, they can also be one of the biggest culprits for heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.
Today, most new houses require double glazing windows to comply with the New Zealand Building Code. But, how is this type of window more energy-efficient than its single pane counterpart?
Double glazing works in three ways:
- It prevents heat loss through the window
- It blocks any drafty breezes through the window and the frame
- It works as an insulator, much in the same way as cavity wall insulation
Just as the name suggests, double glazed windows have two layers of glass. There is a glass pane on the outside, and a glass pane on the inside, leaving a small space in the centre known as a tight air pocket. The trapped air between the two panes cannot circulate heat energy, which reduces the rate of heat loss from inside the house. With less heat able to move through the tight air pocket, the room stays warmer for longer.
Double glazed windows are designed to:
- Reduce heat loss through windows
- Cut down condensation in cold weather
- Reduce external noise (especially helpful if you have noisy neighbours!)
- Improve the overall thermal comfort of your home
Double glazing works all year round to regulate temperature – keeping your home toasty warm in winter and cooler in summer. It’s a win-win.
Bonus tip: Consider investing in full length, double-lined curtains that sit against the inside of your window frame. This can help to lock the heat in during the wintertime.
2. Be sure to insulate
A well-insulated house is very energy efficient and will need little additional heating and cooling.
Insulation reduces the rate that heat is lost through ceilings, walls and floors. It traps air in small pockets and acts as a heat loss barrier. Think of it as a blanket for your home during the colder months!
Insulation is typically created from materials such as:
- Wool fibre
Bear in mind that the design and construction of your home will affect the specific types of insulation you can use.
Luckily for you, the most economical time to install insulation is when you’re building a new home – this is especially true for wall insulation.
The four priority areas in your home for insulation include:
- Under the floor
- Windows, including frames
Insulation is worth the investment. An uninsulated home can use up to 30% more energy to heat than one with correctly installed insulation. Installing insulation in the four priority areas will increase the amount of heat kept inside your home – meaning your home heats up quicker and requires less energy to stay warm.
3. Don’t get floored by flooring
Do you wear woolly socks all year round? It’s hard to work up the courage to ditch the socks when your floor is icy cold or made from an uncomfortable material!
Socks aren’t the only way to keep our feet cosy and warm. When you choose the right flooring, your feet will thank you. In fact, flooring is a fundamental aspect of your home’s comfort.
Simply put, some materials retain the heat better, while others lose it quickly. So, what are the most energy-efficient flooring options for your new build? Some flooring materials are naturally warm underfoot – these include:
- Carpet – this seems like the obvious choice for warm flooring. But, not all carpets are created equal. Carpets with the longest, thickest threads are the most effective for protecting against the cold, as their fibres trap warm air. Dial up the cosy with a dense foam or wool carpet underlay underneath. And remember – carpeting can rot if it comes in contact with water and moisture, so steer clear of carpet in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries.
- Laminate – made up of genuine wood layers, laminate is a more solid and stable surface than traditional hardwood. An excellent temperature regulator, laminate keeps your floors warm in colder climates and will not expand or contract from high moisture levels. A layer of dense foam padding under laminate can also prevent frosty flooring.
- Engineered wood flooring – as the name suggests, this type of material is engineered by humans, not nature. Because of that, it’s often a better pick than natural wood. Engineered hardwood is made from layers of wood bonded together, making it more stable in both low and high humidity as it doesn’t react to temperature. It’s one of the warmer flooring surfaces on the market.
- Tile – many homeowners associate ceramic tiles with icy cold floors. But in actual fact, tiles can be quite toasty! The same temperature-transmitting quality that makes them cold in winter can be used to your advantage. When you add a below-surface heating system, you’ll find tiles become excellent insulators. Their water-resistant properties make tiles a great feet-warmer option for your kitchen and bathroom.
Aside from the floor material itself, there are other ways to make your flooring comfortable and cosy. Underfloor heating is one way to improve flooring warmth. It radiates heat through the underlayment to the top flooring layer. At the same time, heat also rises up into the rest of the room, which is an extra efficient way to control the temperature of the space. The most common underfloor heating system uses wire coils heated with electricity. There are also hydronic systems that use long, thin tubes filled with heated water.
Whichever option you choose, know that flooring can make a significant difference to your comfort throughout the year.
4. Veer towards a ventilation system
An important aspect of your new home’s comfort levels is air quality. Much like lungs, homes need to breathe, making sure that fresh air comes in and stale or dirty air goes out.
Home ventilation refers to the process of moving air around, so that it is changed or replaced in different spaces, improving the quality of indoor air.
There are four main benefits to be gained by installing a ventilation system in your home:
- Reduce condensation – a common problem in New Zealand, condensation forms on internal surfaces when the air outside falls below the temperature of the moist air inside the home. Moisture in the air then condenses into liquid droplets, leading to damp patches or resulting in the familiar ‘crying windows’. Left untreated, condensation can lead to mouldy surfaces around your window. A ventilation system takes the drier air from your ceiling space, filters it and distributes it into the parts of your home that need it. Stale, damp air is pushed out, reducing condensation and moisture.
- Ease allergy symptoms – ventilation systems improve your home’s indoor air quality by filtering most of the common airborne asthma and allergies triggers from the incoming vented air.
- Heat your home more efficiently – drier air takes less energy to heat and is quicker to warm up. So whatever sort of home heating you have, adding a home ventilation system will make it more efficient to heat and help make your home feel more comfortable.
- Keep your rooms fresh – a good ventilation system can keep your new home fresh, helping to prevent the build-up of any stale, musty, or bad odours.
An HRV home ventilation system fills your home with dry, filtered air, all while reducing the moisture and condensation in your home. Drier air also takes less energy to heat and is quicker to warm up, meaning your home will be more energy efficient come winter. Bonus!
Get in touch with one of our knowledgeable experts to find out if our ventilation systems are right for you.
5. Don’t get hampered by your heating
A dry, properly heated house is a pleasure to come home to. Keeping your new home warm and dry is likely to be high on your priority list.
Some home heating methods warm you up, but may burn you when the power bill comes! Heat pumps are among the most energy-efficient forms of heating appliances available. An energy-efficient heat pump can have a lower running cost than other methods of heating, such as wood burners, gas heaters, electric heaters and wood pellet burners. In fact, the heating output of a heat pump is 2-4 times the energy input – how’s that for bang for your buck!
A heat pump acts like a refrigerator, but in reverse – two coils, one inside your home, and one outside draw warmth from the outside air and transfer it into your house. As an added bonus, your heat pump can be used to cool your house during the summer. Heat pumps are controlled using a thermostat. You can set them to keep your home within a certain temperature range at different times of the day.
Heat pumps are a great option for:
- Room-specific heating
- Regions where there are severe air pollution problems
- Budget-conscious families, who are currently spending a lot on electric heaters
The size of the heat pump you need is dependent on the size of the space you want to heat. If the heat pump is too small, it may need more energy to heat the space to your desired temperature. If it’s too large, the heat pump will need to cycle on and off to maintain the temperature in your preferred range.
There are many different types of heat pumps on the market – from high wall heat pumps to multi-split heat pumps, and much more! Curious about what your home would be like with a heat pump? Book a free assessment with HRV and find out more. Our friendly professionals are happy to talk you through the best heat pump options for you and your home.
Let’s get comfortable!
Ready to crack into construction? Don’t forget to prioritise features that ensure comfort, cosiness and cost efficiency for your new build.