Using renewable energy

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Beacon believes that New Zealand homes should make the most of energy supplied from local renewable sources. Primarily this means encouraging use of renewable low grade energy that can very adequately meet space heating and water heating requirements – from proven technologies such as solar water heating and low emission wood burners and pellet fires, to newer technologies such as solar thermal/wetback combined systems.


A framework for selecting renewable energy options

Beacon’s Energy team set out to identify the technical criteria that determine which renewable energy options (and combinations) are best suited to different types of New Zealand homes and/or their climatic/geographic location.  The Development of Renewables Framework for Decision Making report sets out a framework for selecting and assessing different technologies and evaluating appropriate renewable options.

It applies the framework to a series of new and retrofit scenarios to illustrate that a variety of suitable renewable energy options exist to satisfy energy demands at both the home and neighbourhood scales.  The scenarios cover both Auckland and Dunedin locations and include the following typologies:

  1. Retrofit villa, 500m2 urban section
  2. Multi-unit 60/s flat with 6 units
  3. New Build, house, urban section
  4. New build multi-unit development (6 units)

One output of this work is a Solar Assessment Checklist to help homeowners make the right choice for their site.


Testing renewable options in our live research projects

Using renewable energy has been a feature of Beacon’s monitored research homes. 

  • The Waitakere NOW Home® incorporated passive solar design for space heating and a solar water heating system.
  • The Rotorua NOW Home® used passive solar design and a pellet burner for space heating, and a solar water heating system.
  • In the Papakowhai Renovation project, the high sustainability renovations included solar water heating systems with and without wetbacks, wood burners and pellet burners.
  • The New Zealand Housing Foundation HomeSmart Home includes photovoltaic electricity generation.

The data we have gathered from monitoring has given us confidence in the benefits of using solar and other sources of renewable energy - not just for power savings but also in terms of comfort and healthy indoor environment. 


We have also learned a lot about how to get the best performance from your solar water heating system.


  • 03-Jan-2006 (Report TE140/3)

    Renewable Energy Opportunities in the NZ Residential Built Environment (PDF 626KB)

    Chris Kane

    High-level view of low and renewable energy technologies in New Zealand, the level of uptake, who is involved in the market, and the potential changes which will bring Beacon closer to its goals. Considers two main types of energy, low grade and high grade.

Pellet burner