Eco-home builders say that for the same amount as a conventional home you can have a house with near zero energy bills by dropping the size by 10 percent.

Homeowners are swapping out warm, dry, healthy cost-effective homes for an extra bedroom or bathroom.

Solutions lie within build-ready, energy-efficient home plans. eHaus is a nationwide housing company specialising in passive house design and construction. Recently eHaus released a collection of build-ready, energy-efficient house plans. The designs in the People’s Home Collection range from $560,000 to $650,000.

Whilst they are not certified Passive Houses, director Baden Brown says the three-bedroom houses have been energy modelled across all 18 climate zones in New Zealand – using the Passive House energy efficiency computer software (PHPP) as a performance base to maximise high performance.

“One of the biggest challenges when building a new home is budget and often as a trade-off things like energy efficiency and performance aren’t considered,” Brown says. “eHaus wants to bridge that gap.”

Brown confirms the plans will operate well above the eHaus Pacific standard. He says they will use 88 percent less heating energy than if the same plans were built to the current New Zealand building code.

With an airtight thermal envelope and air exchange system, the eHaus builds will maintain a constant minimum temperature of 20 degrees inside all year round requiring less heating and cooling.

The contemporary designs present spacious, open-plan living areas and soaring ceilings that follow raked rooflines. Sustainable materials, designs and construction are used to minimise waste.


eHouse is part of the Superhome Movement which recently held open homes throughout the country. Eco Built Homes is another Superhome builder in Christchurch offering the Affordabuilt range.

Director Kyle Byers was inspired from his own experience living with babies in old homes, paying $800 monthly for power in winter. He thought there must be a cheaper way to stay warm. He worked on the idea for years with a goal to design something warm, healthy and affordable to entry-level buyers.

“People are wanting to be in energy-efficient homes but can’t afford the big architectural homes with all the bells and whistles” Byers explains.

Byers says the Affordabuilt plans usually cost $330,000 to $350,000 for a three-bedroom home with one bathroom – and low energy bills for life. While they look like most other homes on the street it is what lies behind the walls, ceilings and underfloors that sets them and their power bills apart. Instead of airtight thermal envelope the Affordabuilt houses have thicker framing allowing for thicker insulation and in-slab radiant heating. Minimal thermal bridging is standard.

The $319,000 Canterbury home in the photo received winter power bills of just $160 a month, and $75 in summer. 

Adapted from Colleen Hawkes, Builders making high-performance eco-homes more affordable.