Bringing your home's energy efficiency up to scratch
Australia is blessed with a rich history and cultural background - and nowhere is this more apparent than with our homes. From the classic weatherboard property to a quintessential 1980s brick model, your home is a reflection of a certain time and place. However, you probably haven't given much thought to how your particular type of house consumes energy.
Very few households have the luxury of building an energy-efficient home from scratch, but there is plentiful opportunity to make improvements. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggest that this is a route many homeowners take, with 31 per cent making some sort of energy efficient upgrade to their property between April 2012 and March 2013.
An older home will have vastly different energy requirements than a modern property, so here are some things to consider.
The early 20th century classic
With a weatherboard home, there are a number of things that can impact on your electricity expenses. For one, they are usually a simple structure clad with wooden weatherboard. While charming, these homes were not designed to retain heat or keep out the cold. Gaps can appear between the boards overtime due to general age and environmental factors. According to the Victorian state government, they often have uninsulated walls and single-glazed windows, which can result in extensive heat loss during winter.
Energy-efficient heaters can reduce the amount you pay electricity suppliers, but by installing effective insulation in the walls, you can make significant savings. Be aware that these homes are also susceptible to dampness and moisture damage, so have your builder separate the insulation from the wood to avoid condensation build up.
The 1960-70s icon
The double fronted brick veneer house is a feature of the 1960s and 1970s. They include metal-framed windows, a tiled roof, timber floors and brick veneer walls, which can all impact energy efficiency. Unlike their weatherboard counterpart, walls in these properties retain more heat. However, they often have no insulation in the walls or floors, and are only minimally insulated in the ceiling.
If your home falls into this category, it's worth improving insulation throughout. Like weatherboard homes, make sure to patch up draughty window and door frames as well. Not only can it improve comfort, but it can also increase energy savings. In fact, spending around $1,940 on topping up floor insulation alone could save you $310 per year, according to the Victorian government.
The 1980s flashback
Homes built from the 1980s onwards are some of the most commonly owned, so there is plenty of room for cost savings. They are generally situated on a concrete block, meaning they are better insulated than the older homes. However, their electrical components might be outdated. The Department of Industry and Science reports households spend around 8-15 per cent of their energy budget on lighting alone.
Examine whether the lighting in your home meets your needs - are there too many in a particular area? Improvements in lighting technology mean you can often install brighter, less costly bulbs and fittings. You may also want to increase the amount of natural light that flows into your home to reduce reliance on electrical light with larger windows in a north-facing position.
Each property has a distinct set of energy requirements, but electricity suppliers can often provide a plan suitable for one type of property, but fall short on offering a good solution for another. Making the switch to another provider can cut down on your bills, so it's worth enlisting the help of a service like Make It Cheaper. An expert can compare electricity prices and select an option to work for your type of home.
Posted by Jeremy Elliott