Are you one of the many Australians that has developed a mortal fear of their power bill in summer? Or of their heating bill in winter? If you are, welcome! You’re not alone! And every time we get a new invoice, we inevitably find our minds pondering the same question – how can I make my house more energy efficient?
A fresh year; a new challenge. Let 2018 be the year you retrofitted your home to improve its energy efficiency.
There is an environmental movement that is becoming popular worldwide: sustainable living. We live in a society that is increasingly aware of climate change, carbon footprint and the impact of our personal habits on community health and safety. And there are ways and means to make our homes more sustainable. By adopting basic energy saving ideas, we are not only making life more comfortable for ourselves and our families, but we are creating a better environment and ultimately, saving ourselves a pretty penny when it comes time to settle those accounts!
We are all familiar with that old cliché ‘prevention is better than cure’. Overused as it may be, it’s all too true when it comes to energy efficiency. While we’re keenly aware that energy prices are on the increase, homeowners don’t have to live in fear and trepidation of their power bills.
Here are some of our top ideas on improving energy efficiency in your home:
The first thing to think about is what temperature you actually want the inside of your home to be. For some reason, when it’s cold outside we crank the heater up to 21° or 22°C. Yet when it’s hot out, we turn the air conditioning unit right down to 18°C. The first thing we need to change is our own attitude. Think realistically: what’s wrong with slipping on a jumper and socks on a cold winters day, or shorts and a tank top when it’s hot? – keep yourself comfortable by wearing the appropriate clothing rather than running the heater/cooler.
That said, we still need to maintain the inside of our homes at a decent temperature. When choosing heating or cooling units, take time to check their energy efficiency. These days most new appliances have a star rating out of 5 – remember, the most efficient mightn’t be the cheapest on the shelf, but it’ll cost you less in ongoing running expenses.
Many older homes are fitted with single glazed windows, which are responsible for huge heat gains and losses. Replacing single glazed windows with double or even triple glazed ones will reduce these fluctuations in temperature and make your home a much more comfortable environment all year round.
Seal around your windows and doors to get rid of draughts and leaks. This isn’t a big job, but could make a big difference! Ready-made draught strips can be purchased from your local hardware supplier, and all you need is the tools from your DIY kit and a bit of elbow grease…
Appropriate window treatments are also key to an energy efficient home. By installing block-out blinds or drapes and pelmets, you can greatly reduce the amount of heat that is gained or lost via the windows. Awnings over external windows are another big ticket idea to help heat gain – they prevent the sun from reaching the window altogether.
Although insulation has been the subject of a lot of bad press in the last few years, it still remains one of the most effective ways of increasing home efficiency. Retro-fitting insulation in your walls, ceilings, and floors might be a messy job, but it’s well worth the effort! It makes a huge difference to the internal temperature of the home (and has the added benefit of sound control, too!).
If your budget allows it, consider installing a Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system in your home. The HRV system works by exchanging warm, stale air from inside the home with dry, fresh air from outside. They are an extremely effective, natural way to ventilate your home, and are known to assist with improving respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Replace the old halogen globes with energy efficient CF (compact fluorescent) or LED options. And while you are renovating, you might even consider installing movement sensors so that lights will turn off automatically if nobody is in the room. Use solar powered landscape lighting – it’s easy to install and cheap to run!
Is your home dingy inside during the day? Install a skylight – it’ll transform a dark, uninviting room into a bright and airy space, without the cost of running electric lighting.
Solar power is gaining popularity as more and more folks reap the benefits of ‘homemade’ power. Although there is the initial outlay cost, the benefits of solar power are huge – not only can you generate most if not all of our own electricity, but you can feed excess power back into the grid and get paid for it!
With a bit of careful thought, some creativity and a bit of DIY enthusiasm, it’s not hard to improve the efficiency of our homes. There are 101 little things you can do, that all add up to give big results. As always, home comfort remains important, and as we become more aware of our responsibilities as home owners, we can take measures to ensure that we are creating a happy, healthy environment for ourselves and our families.
Louise Procter is a writer for Natural Home Solutions. Living by the beach, on the sunny South Coast of NSW she enjoys creating articles that provide information and inspiration to readers to help them in their everyday lives. You will often find Louise with a coffee in one hand and her laptop in the other.