Many of the earth's natural resources are finite. Yet, with development and population growth, demand for resources continues to grow.
Buildings are highly resource-hungry - think about the timber, cement, glass, paint and other materials that go into their construction.
A smart home reduces the burden on the earth's resources by using them as efficiently as possible. You still get a great home that's enjoyable and comfortable to live in, but it's less wasteful.
Smart homes and smart renovations aim to use materials as efficiently as possible, and to use materials that are long-lasting. Where possible, materials are re-used or recycled.
Smart homes are more energy-efficient
Smart homes harness the sunís energy for a warm house and water heating, and natural ventilation provides cooling.
Having a smart home also means using energy-efficient heating, appliances and lighting - they generally cost no more to buy. Making small changes, such as turning TVs and electronic gadgets off at the wall when youíre not using them, can also make a difference.
Cutting energy use is good for your pocket, and itís also good for New Zealand and for the planet.
A significant proportion of New Zealandís electricity is produced by burning gas and coal. These produce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change.
While the exact impact of climate change is hard to predict, New Zealand will experience some of the following:
Rising sea levels
More frequent extreme weather events such as floods and droughts
Higher rainfall in the west, and lower rainfall in the east.
Reducing energy use is one way to help reduce the impact of climate change. It also reduces the need to build new generation capacity.
Smart homes use less water
Fresh water is a limited resource. Only 1% of the world's water is fresh water.
Even in a seemingly wet country such as New Zealand, water shortages are common in some areas. These shortages may become more frequent or severe as a result of Climate change.
What's more, it takes significant resources to get the water to your tap. Reservoirs and pipelines have to be built, and the water has to be treated and pumped to your home. Waste water has to be treated and discharged back to the environment - our streams and beaches.
Saving water can be as simple as fixing a leaky tap or choosing water-efficient appliances.
Smart homes cause less water pollution
Our rivers and lakes support unique and fragile ecosystems. Stormwater run-off not only causes flooding, but is a major source of pollution in the world's waterways.
Making smart choices in how you operate your home can reduce the pollution and degradation of these valuable natural resources.
It can be so simple:
Use phosphate-free detergents to reduce oxygen depletion in rivers and streams. Youíll help save the fish that live there and make the waterways safer and more pleasant for people to swim in and drink from.
Use a rainwater tank to reduce your load on the stormwater system so that rivers and stream donít get 'flushed out' in times of high rainfall.
Filter the stormwater run-off from your roof and drive through a rain garden or swale to remove sediments and contaminants.
Smart homes are good for native plants and wildlife
New Zealand has already lost many species including the moa and giant eagle. We've lost nearly a third of our endemic birds and a further 800 species are considered threatened including four species of kiwi.
Smart homes can help.
By planting native trees and plants in your garden you will provide a good habitat for some native birds.
By reducing your water use, and by building and renovating in ways that minimise earthworks and protect native plant life, you'll protect ecosystems in rivers and other waterways.
Smart homes are less dependent on oil
It is widely thought that the world's oil reserves are either at or past their peak.
Most of the world relies almost entirely on petroleum for transport. But petroleum is not just used for fuel - it is also used in thousands of household products, including:
floor wax, carpet backing
many fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and detergents
shower doors, shower curtains, toilet seats
Taking a smart approach means reducing demand for oil by:
carefully choosing your materials
re-using, recycling and conserving materials
choosing to live close to where you work or to use public transport
buying locally produced products (which reduces the need for oil for transport)
using less plastic
taking re-usable shopping bags to the supermarket
using natural alternatives where possible.
Smart homes create less waste
Smart design and smart choice of materials reduces the waste you create when you build or renovate.
By composting and recycling you can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and save you money on materials.
Landfills uses up land that otherwise could provide habitat for native species. Toxic substances in waste such as electronics, batteries, paints etc, leach from the landfill into waterways and make re-habilitating closed landfills more difficult.
Find out how other New Zealanders are benefiting from smart homes and renovations. More Ľ
See our top tips for quick advice on buying a home or property, or designing a new home or renovation.
Assess your home's performance
Use the Homestarô online tool or engage a Homestar Homecoach to see how well your home performs and get advice on the steps to improving it, or book a certified assessment.