Building Chilly Bin Homes

Kiwis traditionally rely on the sun to heat their homes but in grey weather or in this case, average positioning, what we have is essentially a chilly bin - a well insulated box that keeps the heat in or the cool in. Central heating's purpose is for when there is no sun - at least two thirds of the day during winter. Evenly heating all of the home is how the rest of the world live. Why don't we?

We need to wake up to central heating.

Poor design blamed for 'depressing' Housing NZ units lacking sunlight 

Emma Dangerfield STUFF

Housing NZ tenant Trev Curran's rental receives minimal sun due to the height of the neighbouring roof. Freezing social housing tenants are sleeping in their living rooms or going to bed in clothes to try and make it through winter. Several tenants at North Canterbury's newest Housing New Zealand (HNZ) development blame the design of their houses for the lack of warmth. The purpose-built one and two-bedroom units in Rangiora have only recently been completed, but despite insulation and double-glazing, they are still freezing because of the lack of sunlight. 

The high A-frame roof design is being blamed for a lack of sunlight inside the homes. Residents say the positioning of the units and the high-pitched roof design means many homes miss out on direct sun. 

Trev Curran, 72, said some north-facing units with glass sliders were "bathed in sunlight". "I look at them and I'm so envious."

Housing NZ tenant Trev Curran says some north-facing units with glass sliders are "bathed in sunlight", while he's wearing clothes to bed to keep warm.

Housing NZ tenant Trev Curran says some north-facing units with glass sliders are "bathed in sunlight", while he's wearing clothes to bed to keep warm. He has been living in his unit for six months. "I've had to go to bed with all my clothes on, socks on my hands and my hoodie pulled up over my head." Curran said he was grateful for a roof over his head after spending three months on the streets last winter, but was speaking out to stop the same mistakes being repeated across the country.

Curran says everything in his house feels "clammy and damp". "If I open my front door I get one hour [of sunlight]. Everything feels clammy and damp. I've got a heat pump but I've still needed to buy a heater for my bedroom." HNZ said the new homes were designed and developed with local conditions and architecture in mind. "They all contain heat pumps, thermal drapes, double glazing, new carpet and are fully insulated. Some of them have received a greater level of modifications to suit the individual needs of our tenants." Curran says he's grateful to have a roof over his head, but wants to make sure social housing units are designed appropriately. Other residents in the complex were too nervous to speak out publicly for fear of reprisals from HNZ. 
Curran says everything in his house feels "clammy and damp".

One, who had lived in her unit since May, said while the development was a great idea to lessen the housing crisis, the design was shocking. The resident said while many of the 28 units were lovely, the rest would never get the sun, especially in winter. "It's been three months of nil sunlight. The window drains cannot drain as the holes are frozen.

"Tenants with limited mobility were the most affected, she said.  "They can't get outside often, and they shouldn't have to sit outside in 5 degrees in their mobility scooters just to try get sunlight."To live with minimal natural light is depressing. To force the elderly and disabled to live there or stay on the street is criminal."Another resident said she was warm in her unit but only because she wore her hat and coat inside, while another was sleeping on her couch because it was too cold in her bedroom.

Waimakariri District Council planning manager Matthew Bacon said district plan requirements meant HNZ had to submit a design statement, part of which included solar considerations. The statement said the majority of the units were arranged on the north and west sides to achieve direct sunlight for some part of the day. Bacon said given the scale of the proposal, the council sought a peer-review from another urban designer, who concluded the adverse environmental effects would be less than minor once HNZ made some amendments.

Harvey said HNZ encouraged tenants to contact them for assistance if they had issues during the colder months.  Tenants also received an information pack when they moved in, which had useful tips for reducing moisture and keeping homes warm in winter, he said.

Article sourced from STUFF

Photography taken by ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF