Architects are often guinea pigs in their own homes to test out ideas. The Permaculure House is no exception—built by Andrew and Petra Stephenson for their family of five. The house was the first they built for themselves that incorporated permaculture principals. The design received an excellent rating under the Branz Green Home Scheme and the family saved a considerable amount in running and heating costs. The house incorporated locally milled macrocarpa for framing and cladding and recycled aluminium windows and matai flooring. The house was also the first to have an internal composting toilet approved in the Western Bay of Plenty District.
One of the best permaculture design features applied house was incorporating a Wamsler wood burner. Every time the family started a fire in the burner they managed to use the heat in six different ways:
- Cooking in the oven and general space heating.
- Heating the potable water in the wetback that supplied all the hot water for the house.
- Providing towel warmers using the residual heat from the return wetback pipe.
- Creating a drying room and keeping the composting toilet warm over the winter by installing a radiator in the basement that used residual heat from the wetback pipe.
- Underfloor heating to the entire ground floor area when it got cold.
- Warming two upstairs bedrooms using residual heat from the chimney.