Sustainability and eco conscious practices are becoming more popular in today’s society as we become more aware of our purchase decisions and the impacts that they have on our environment.
With this, we are seeing many changes to new home builds to combat the effects new homes have on the environment and the emergence of ‘passive houses’. A ‘passive house’ is a home that is built to self-regulate its own temperature and reduce its ecological footprint. The materials and the design of the home means it uses up to 90% less energy whilst at the same time meeting strict standards regarding its indoor air quality and humidity.
This month, the Miele for Life team decided to explore the concept of a passive house and sat down with the Team Wunderbar, a New Zealand couple who are having a passive house built and recently visited the Auckland Miele Experience Centre (pre-COVID-19).
Read on to learn more about Anna and Andreas’ journey, explore what it means to have a passive house, the benefits and why everyone should consider a move to a more sustainable home build.
Miele: Andreas and Anna, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Andreas: I was born and raised in Germany and in 2006 decided to move over to New Zealand for a year as I had always heard amazing things about the country from my English language teacher. In 2009, I made the decision to stay permanently and haven’t looked back since.
Anna: My cultural background is Chinese and Thai, but I grew up in New Zealand and my upbringing was heavily influenced by a rich culture. Andreas and I married in New Zealand, in a secluded beach in West Auckland.
Miele: Andreas, we’ve heard that you lived in a double-glazed house in Germany – can you tell us a little bit about it and what led you to want to build a passive home?
Andreas: My parents built their home in 1981. Germany was already progressive with eco-friendly homes, making it standard to have double-glazed windows installed.
After moving to New Zealand and seeing the way the environmental conditions effected home builds here, I knew that I wanted to build a home with similar standards to my German family home.
Anna and I attended the eHaus trade show where we heard a presentation on Passive houses and knew that this was how we wanted to build our first home. We wanted something that would be a home for life – functional and durable, whilst also leaving the least number of environmental footprints.
Miele: Can you tell us a little bit about the design of the home you’re building?
Andreas: Our home design all started on paper and we worked with an architect to help us scale back all of our ideas and fit them into our budget.
My European influence meant that we didn’t want a house that was so big that it had abandoned areas. We wanted a design that incorporated our need for open plan living and no wasted space, ensuring every room and space had a purpose.
Upstairs will be our main living area with the kitchen, living and dining room in the one space. The main bedrooms will be on the same level and downstairs we have a guest bedroom and garage. This will be helpful when our parents come to stay from interstate or overseas and we may even decide to Airbnb these rooms in the future so other people can experience a passive house!
Miele: Why should people consider a passive home? What made you?
Sustainability was the biggest element. We both live by the philosophy of buying better and buying less and truly caring about the things we own to make sure that we aren’t having a negative impact on our environment.
Miele: What are the benefits of having a passive home?
Anna: There are quite a few benefits of having a passive home and the most appealing one to us was the fact that when you build one, you’re building it for life, meaning that it reduces the need for future constructions or rebuilds. It’s also been designed in a way to work in conjunction with the environment to keep the house warm or cool, eliminating condensation or overheating which is quite common with New Zealand homes.
Miele: Have you ever used Miele appliances before? What Miele appliances have you chosen to create a passive home environment*?
Andreas: My parents always had Miele appliances at home because they trusted the fact that they were German engineered. In our current apartment, we needed to upgrade some of the appliances and decided on Miele. I’ve always had amazing experience with customer service, from the in-centre staff to the technicians.
We’ve decided to fill our whole home with Miele appliances because we knew that it was a brand that we could trust and would help us to meet the requirements for a certified passive home.
Miele: Which features on your Miele appliances are you most excited about?
Anna: We’re so excited about all of our Miele appliances but most importantly the microwave steam combination oven in the kitchen. We’ve previously had separate appliances for each of these elements but can’t wait to try the all-in-one to test out new recipes and advance our cooking skills.
Andreas: I am particularly excited because it means that I can finally try to make a traditional German Marble cake with the steam function to keep the cake moist!
Miele: How can people in conventional homes make changes to become more ‘passive’?
While we know that not everyone can build a new home or renovate to make their home ‘passive’, there are some simple tips that we think people can incorporate into their build or upgrades.
- Insulation (airtight), double or triple glazing your windows: This will help to maintain the temperature in your home if the environmental conditions are right. It will mean that you won’t have to rely on central heating or cooling systems when extreme weather conditions hit.
- Appliances: Look for appliances that have good energy and water ratings, that last a long time, and that are easy to fix if something goes wrong – we did this with our Miele appliances to find the best options for our home.
- Expert advice: Always listen to experts and a consultant on how you can achieve the best results. If you are wanting to build a passive home, they will have a program that they can run you through to ensure the design meets the standards.
- Solar: Try to incorporate solar panels and solar powered elements throughout the home to use the elements to heat your home.
For anyone looking to build a passive home, we suggest working with the certification body to help build awareness of the benefits of building a passive home!
*Appliances used by Team Wunderbar:
WCR870WPS 9KG WASHER
- PowerWash 2.0 with Spin@Spray technology reduces water- and energy consumption
- (5-star energy rating and 5-star WELS rating)
- 1,600 rpm spin speed for shorter drying times
- Hot and cold connect to take advantage of solar hot water
- TwinDos for accurate detergent dosage for every individual load
- Honeycomb drum creates a thin film of water to protect textiles, expanding their lifespan
TCE630WP 8KG HEAT PUMP DRYER
- Australia and New Zealand’s only 10 star-rated 8 kg tumble dryer
- PerfectDry function monitors water quality and adjusts drying cycle accordingly
- EcoDry technology maintains efficiency and drying times throughout the product’s lifespan
KMDA7774FL INDUCTION COOKTOP WITH EXTRACTOR
- Easy-to-clean ceramic glass stays relatively cool, minimising the risk of food residues burning on
- Automatic pan size recognition ensures that only the required area will be heated up
- Conn@ctivity automatically adjusts the extraction fan to the most appropriate setting
- Air recirculation with long-life active charcoal filter ideally supports the Passive House concept
G6727 SCi XXL OBSW INTEGRATED D/W
- AutoOpen drying achieves perfect drying results with minimum energy consumption
- Option to connect to warm water can significantly reduce the energy consumption
- 5-star energy efficiency and 5.5-star WELS rating
KFNS37432iD INTEGRATED FRIDGE/FREEZER
- DynaCool for optimum distribution of temperature and air humidity, extending food storage times
- 3.5 star energy rating