You can become an ‘energy control freak’
(but in a nice way, of course…)
The following is a reasonable list of things anyone can do to help improve their energy efficiency at home. It is not meant to be comprehensive but endeavours to show the sorts of things you can start tackling immediately, as well as things to consider for future…
BTW. All of these actions also save you money on your energy bills – what’s NOT to like about that!!!
…and, once you’ve saved on your energy bills, you might like to consider a solar photovoltaic system for your roof…
Remember, sharing is caring and you wouldn’t want your family, friends and neighbours to miss out on all the fun, would you…
Energy Star appliances
If there are three things you should do, they are insulate, insulate and insulate. It’s probably the best thing you can do to reduce your energy use and create a better, more comfortable living space. While you’re doing a renovation is the perfect time to upgrade your wall insulation. If you’re ‘topping up’ your current insulation, lay the batts directly over the current batts otherwise, the next time someone gets up into the roof space, they won’t know where the ceiling joists are and that could get ugly…
Heavy curtains and pelmets also help. In summer, outside blinds or deciduous plants to the north and west can help reduce your home’s heat load. Closing the curtains on a hot summer’s day can also help to keep the heat out and is a cheap alternative – it is always better to try to stop your home heating in the first place, rather than removing the heat after the fact.
If you added together all of the ‘holes’ in the average home’s envelope you would have a 1 m2 hole in the wall!!! If you had a 1 m2 hole in your wall, would you fill it???
Use ‘no more gaps’ or other caulking compound to seal architraves. Your local hardware has oodles of draughtproofing kit to drool over for your windows and doors but buy quality as you don’t want to have to do it again for many years.
Between 190C and 260C there is no need to either heat or cool – it’s comfortable. Every degree above 190C you heat (and below 260C you cool) puts an extra 10% on your heating/cooling bill!!!
Use ceiling fans to increase the effective temperature before you cool in summer by 3-40C – use them in reverse mode in winter to mix the hot air at the ceiling with the rest of the air in the room.
Only heat or cool your living areas – bedrooms don’t need heating; you sleep better when the temperature is lower – this is why it’s so difficult to sleep in summer. Cooler temperatures also gives your body the signal to ‘wind down’. Close doors and use door ‘snakes’ to seal off draughts.
Consider getting a heat pump (reverse cycle air conditioner) when your current heater/cooler is up for replacement. Look for a CoP/EER greater than 4.5 – this means that, for every kWh of energy in, you will get >4.5kWh of heating/cooling out.
Minimise your hot water use – it takes a LOT of energy to heat water. Use a low flow shower head and limit your showers to 4 minutes. Don’t leave taps (especially hot taps) running unnecessarily – we live in the driest populated continent on the planet and this is likely to get worse with Climate Change! When your hot water system is up for replacement, consider a heat pump or solar unit – you’ll be glad you did!
Install a ‘ValveCosy’ on your hot water storage tank PTR valve to save 7% on your hot water heating costs.
Replace your inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescents or, even better, LED lights. Look for greater than 80 lumens per watt in LED lighting.
Halogen downlights make great heaters – that’s why they start house fires! That’s also why you have holes in your insulation where every downlight is, making your insulation look more like swiss cheese!!! LEDs, on the other hand, make great lights and you can then cover the bulb with a “downmitt” to restore your insulation back to a semblance of “standard tasty cheese”.
Energy Star appliances
When buying any new appliances, always check out the Energy Star labels – they give a good indication of efficiencies. Go for as many stars as you can manage as the savings in energy can often offset the extra cost. Make sure you buy the right size appliance – fridges run better when they are full and a HUGE TV can literally cost you enormously both with the purchase cost and with daily running costs. When you were growing up, a 26 inch colour TV was probably the “bee knees” – why is it now so important to have a 60″ wide screen “cinema experience”???
Tip: Multiply the “kWh” figure on the Energy Star label by 0.30 to get an idea of the annual running costs. eg. a “sticker” energy use of 100kWh costs approximately $30 per annum to run.
About 5% of your energy bill may be from appliances that are ‘on’ even when they’re ‘off’ – think TV’s, heat pumps, dvd players, phone chargers, even some washing machines and dryers – in fact anything that either has a light on or stays warm is using energy unnecessarily. Turn them off at the switch to save. For those ‘hard to get at’ switches, the “New Inventors People’s Choice” award winning EcoSwitch will make turning off a breeze.
4W that is on 24×7 costs $10 pa!!! Use an energy meter like the Australian designed and manufactured PowerMate Lite to check how much energy is being used in standby. Your local council may even have them to loan from your library…
Ride a bike, walk, catch public transport – use a car as a last resort and you’ll save heaps. Consider getting rid of your second (or first) car and joining a car share program. (GoGet or FlexiCar)
Cook in bulk – it uses very little extra energy and you can have YMCA food (Yesterday’s Meal Cooked Again). If you would rather not have the same thing 2 nights running, you can store in the fridge or freezer. If you freeze it, get it out 24 hours before you need to use it and store it in the fridge – as it defrosts it will reduce the load on your fridge.
Make a shopping list and stick to it – you’ll save heaps. Go shopping with neighbours and buy in bulk to save even more (and you can car share to get there saving fuel as well). Better still, descend on your local food provedore en masse by bicycle!
Do full loads (goes for the dishwasher as well) and hang your clothes to dry – it’s not often that you can’t get them dry outside.
If you have problems, put a clothes horse up – remember those? – as they dry they will rehumidify the air which also helps to alleviate asthma!
If you must use a dryer, make sure the lint filter is cleaned after every load as this will help maintain efficiency and could prevent a fire.