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Plenty of businesses these days claim environmentally friendly credentials, but now there’s a council-backed advisor to offer totally independent advice on how to build and renovate without hurting the planet.
Sarah Fleet, one of a number of eco design advisors around the country, works from Hutt City Council where she offers a free advisory service to residents looking to make their homes warmer, drier and healthier.
Sarah has been in the job nearly two years, in which time she has carried out more than 200 in-home consultations. She carries out a two-hour health check of the home, as well as advising on such things as energy-efficient appliances and heating systems, ways to save money on energy bills and how to improve insulation.
Some advice, she admits, is very straightforward – such as dealing with mould or selecting drapes to improve thermal efficiency – but often there is scope to make a big difference when people renovate or build from scratch.
“I encourage people to design around solar heating – orientating the house and as many windows as possible towards north, with the kitchen east-facing and living areas west-facing.
"I also encourage people to think about solar mass – how materials can absorb heat during winter days for slow release overnight, and its opposite effect in summer. This sort of input can be particularly rewarding, both personally and for those seeking unbiased advice.”
Even people renovating can gain from a visit by Sarah because she has a wealth of knowledge on environmentally-friendly building materials and their performance and cost-effectiveness.
A growing area of interest to homeowners, particularly with the onset of winter, is retrofitting of double-glazing.
Sarah also has information at her fingertips about various subsidised schemes to install insulation and other energy-saving products. In the case of her own council, building and resource consent fees are also waived if owners install self-sufficient energy systems (such as solar or heat pump hot water systems, wetbacks connected to pellet stoves, rainwater tanks and so on) or double-glaze pre-2000 homes.
And best of all, the advice is on the house. To learn more, ring Sarah on 570 6927.