Thermahome: One Kiwi's solution to cold houses

Thermahome: One Kiwi's solution to cold houses

We've got a big problem with our houses in New Zealand. Too often they're not built well enough, and they're not warm enough.

But according to one homeowner, building a warm house doesn't need to be expensive or difficult. In fact, it's so easy he did it himself.

Warmth was Paul Henson's first thought when designing his home.

"[That] is the complete opposite way people build a house," he says. "They go to a builder or an architect and they decide they want a certain sort of house and they get what they've always got."

It's been a labour of love, piecing together what he calls his "thermahome".

It looks like a regular house with plenty of personal touches, but it's what is hidden from view that makes it so special.

"It's a metal sandwich, with polystyrene in the middle. It's fireproofed, so the polystyrene won't burn; it'll just char."

It is, effectively, a residential coolstore.

"It's really good with the heat pump and the extra insulation. No problems at all; 20 degrees inside all the time."

Originally designed as a homestay, Mr Henson now shares the home with his partner and her daughter. It is a big house – five bedrooms, 450 square metres. Even so, the power bills are proportionately lower than normal.

"Average bill is about $270 a month, which is heating, hot water and all the electricity for cooking, lighting, whatever – very cheap."

What he'd like to see is council and Government ensuring these principles are applied more often to new builds.

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