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Seven ways to create a more energy efficient home

Australian homes have become more sustainable and this is how home owners are doing it.

Install solar power on rooftops in Australia

Different households have different energy consumption habits, but solar can work for essentially any of them—including those with heavy power usage requirements. Frustrated by the already spiralling electricity bills and effects of global warming, many Australian households are looking for ways to build more energy efficient homes to minimise energy usage and receive zero electricity bills through renewable energy.

Thankfully, new advances in power supply options, renewable technologies and excellent designs have made energy saving solutions more reliable than ever before.
You must be already thinking, how can I make my home more energy efficient? Well, we spoke to energy experts and here are seven best tips to help you save on energy.

1. Cover the home with insulation

Sounds strange? Well, you may have to completely seal your home off the external environmental elements so as to ensure a constant temperature on the inside. This is where having an effective insulation within the roof space and walls, double-glazing and efficient draught and waterproofing comes in.

The best time to install a proper insulation system in an existing home is during renovation. According to Tone Wrenovation, a lead architect Studio, the process of sealing the home makes it an excellent esky. The technique helps preserve heat in winter and maintain its cool during the hottest summer days.

If you’re retrofitting, then explore glass wool products such as Knauf Insulation, known for their patented formaldehyde free ceiling batts.

2. Ventilate naturally

Ensure your home remains well-ventilated naturally with plenty of light. Jeff Angel of the Total Environment Centre says, “Cross-ventilation allows plenty of airflow through as much as possible, with cooling breezes during summer and that means you don’t have to use air conditioning that much, if at all.”

Making the most of natural breezes helps you reduce the need for cooling. Ideally, you can carefully orient a new home and ensure it has a well-designed layout, and better still, renovate your old home to incorporate louvres to enhance greater airflow.

Positioning windows in areas that will allow in more sunlight, as well as using skylights are also inexpensive ways to add brightness to your home naturally without the use of artificial lighting.

3. Integrate zoning

It’s not just about sealing the house off from the external elements, it’s also more about sealing off specific areas of your interior. According to Andy Marlow, a sustainability consultant and director at Environtecture, a group of ecologically sustainable building designers, that’s what zoning entails.

He added that “even if you have a house that is all open plan, you may still need to close down different spaces when you want to keep in the heat or cool.”

Notably, closing off rooms not in use ultimately reduces the amount of air that needs to be cooled or heated. In addition, you must have a great ventilation system to ensure the moisture within doesn’t get trapped inside the home hence causing interstitial condensation within walls or spaces in the roof.

With the increasing number of new building constructions, and even in old buildings, more of this approach is required—ensuring your home is build tight and ventilated right.

4. Heat and cool efficiently

Cooling and warming devices—heaters and air conditioners are some of the power guzzlers around the home that consume more than two-thirds of your electricity, as noted by Wheeler. However, the solution is not more about convincing consumers to stay cold during winter or warm in summer, he added.

Installing solar power can help customers to offset their cooling and heating energy costs.

When you mount a rooftop photovoltaic solar system on the biggest area of your roof, wall or ground, and install an effective heat pump, then you can enjoy your hot water showers and air conditioning service at a zero electricity bill.

It’s worthwhile to invest in a good system that can be powered all day long by the sun and allow you to remain warm or cool at night. It’s crucial for Australian households to be comfortable in a sustainable way.

5. Energy efficient LED lighting

Did you know that lighting your home gobbles up to 15 percent of your average power consumption? That’s so true. Sadly, most people have no clue that they could cut their lighting cost by more than half by making the switch to the low-energy LED lighting.

According to David Bare, the executive director of the Housing Industry Association in NSW, LED lighting is more efficient and lasts longer than the ordinary down-lights and incandescent bulb lights.

Additionally, modern dimmers, which are flexible enough to reduce the supply on and off quickly countless times in a second, also lower the amount of electricity going into the bulb. Ultimately, this extends the life of the bulb and reduces the overall capacity of power being consumed.

6. House shading

Angel urges Australian households to create more shading within their homes. This may require planting and maintaining trees all around in order to shade your home and any concrete surface in the surrounding areas.

This provides a great cooling effect that minimises the need for air conditioners besides adding to the neighbourhood’s tree canopy that collectively ensures that less heat comes from paved surfaces during the night and that your home’s effect on the area’s biodiversity is reduced.

Ensure that you’re shading efforts do not interfere with your solar panels. Shade on a single solar panel can reduce the overall efficiency of the system, unless your solar panels have micro-inverters.

7. Think smart home

Make the most of technology to reduce your energy consumption. This may involve switching on lights only when entering a room, and switching off when you leave, and ensuring that all gadgets are only turned on when in use otherwise, these tech toys can gobble up much of your electricity without even your knowledge.

Finally, there are plenty of smart home technology management systems available on the market to help you control energy consumption and monitor usage so you can take charge of your power, change behaviour and cut back where necessary.

Written by Darryn Van Hout

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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