New Zealand has a reputation of being one of the greenest (literally and figuratively) countries on the planet, but residents are keenly aware of its failings. Twenty percent of the country’s energy still relies on fossil fuels, and its waterways are all but destroyed. While government projects and policies seek to make a cleaner and greener future, residents can add to its efforts by making their homes a little bit greener.
The Heat from the Earth
Burning any form of fossil fuel creates greenhouse gases. Even if you use electricity for heating, you’re still using the 20 percent of fossil fuels used in generating electricity. Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) require no fossil fuels and produce zero greenhouse gases. It makes use of the constant temperature of the earth below your feet (through embedded pipings and pumps) to heat or warm your house. GHPs require very little energy, effectively cooling and heating your home using less energy than traditional HVAC units. GHPs last for more than 50 years, although the indoor components may require a bit of maintenance now and again. Installation usually takes an average of 2-3 days. The costs can be a bit higher than the average heating and cooling system. However, a GHP usually pays for itself in savings in 8-12 years.
Energy from the Sun
Solar power systems reduce your reliance on the fossil-burning electrical grid. The northern parts of NewZealand (Whangarei, Auckland, Tauranga, etc.) experience very little snow, making solar panels a desirable option. The average Kiwi home consumes 30kWh of electricity a day, costing $200 a month. An 8-kW solar energy system — producing 40kWh worth of electricity a day — costs around $18,000. It is enough to power your entire house and send a little extra to the grid. Solar panels typically last 25-35 years before losing significant efficiency (around 20 percent). With a 10-year financing plan, your panels are practically free as you’ll just be using the savings on your electricity bill to pay off your monthly dues. You’ll still get another 15-25 years of free electricity once you’ve paid off your solar panels, making them a good investment.
Efficient Use of Water
Two-thirds of New Zealand’s rivers are unswimmable, and 75 percent of local marine wildlife are already endangered. While most of the pollution can be blamed on farm runoffs, a significant portion of water pollutants come from urban centers. Polluted water from development runoffs, stormwater provisions, and sewage treatment account for more nitrogen than dairy farms. Manage your water consumption by installing a greywater system in your house. It can cut your water consumption by half, reducing your contribution to urban runoffs. A greywater system uses water from your showers, faucets, and washers, reusing them to flush the toilet or water your plants. Water pollution is the top priority amongst New Zealanders, and greywater systems are one of the best solutions.
A cleaner and greener country requires investing in a few green features for your house. Save on energy, reduce your carbon footprint, and reduce your contribution to the water pollution crisis gripping the nation.