Energy efficiency in the home - How much can you really save?
There are a few simple changes you can make in your home to reduce the amount you need to spend on your electricity prices.
Ever wonder how much you can really save through passive design and making smarter heating and cooling choices?
Heating and cooling
According to the Department of Industry, heating and cooling can make up to 40 per cent of the average household's energy spending, making it the largest contributor to your energy bills.
Luckily, there are a few changes you can make in this area to see a reduction on these prices, without affecting your comfort levels.
These changes do not involve significant changes to your home, but simply build on items you may already have.
Utilising the sun to help heat your home in winter can make it easier for you to raise the temperature, and in summer you can take steps to prevent this natural heat source from sneaking in your home.
If you have north-facing windows, you can use these to harness the sun in the winter. However, in the summer months you will want to ensure these windows are shaded to prevent extra rays creeping in.
Installing items such as insulation, draught proofing and shading windows can reduce the amount you need to pay to electricity suppliers in order to heat or cool your home.
These are not items only to be included when you first build your home. They can be retrofitted to your existing property later on to reduce the amount of energy used to keep your home at a comfortable temperature year-round.
Insulation is an important tool to use in your quest to improve energy efficiency in the home as it will trap heat during the winter months and reduce radiant heat gain in the summer.
Installing this product in your roofs and ceilings is where you will see the most benefits, saving around 45 per cent of your heating and cooling energy costs, according to yourhome.gov.au.
Adding wall insulation is another step you can take to lower your bills, reducing the amount you need to spend by up to a further 20 per cent.
Draught proofing is yet another area where you should be able to see savings as it stops heated or chilled air from leaking out of gaps and cracks in your home.
Installing this kind of passive design can save you up to 25 per cent of your heating and cooling bills due to improved efficiency, so you won't be paying extra for hot or cold air you are not using.
Making these changes is simple - firstly, start by searching for any gaps and cracks in your walls and seal them when you spot them.
Often these can be found around doors and windows, but make sure you also check your floorboards, skirting boards, skylights and architraves.
You can get a caulking gun from your local hardware store and fill these gaps up yourself.
If you are renting, you can still make changes to knock down your electricity prices without altering your house.
Utilising draught stoppers is an easy way to prevent cooled and heated air from escaping. Have a look around for products that attach permanently to your door, or simply use the traditional fabric 'sausage'.
Different heating methods use varying levels of energy to run, so you might be able to lower your energy prices by switching to a more efficient system.
Ensure you are using the right size model for your needs as a system that is too big or too small will not be an efficient choice.
The best choice will depend on whether you aim to heat a room on its own, or to heat your entire house.
Efficient gas space heaters will be a cheaper option for your home, and could help you reduce your electricity and gas prices.
However, if you choose gas heating products, ensure you are adequately ventilating your property as the air pollution they create can affect your health if you do not take steps to remove it.
A reverse-cycle, or heat pump, is the most energy efficient type of heater.
The best way to ensure you are using your system efficiently is to install thermostats and timers so that you know you are only heating your room as much as you need to, saving money and power.
The choices you make in this area vary greatly depending on the area you live in, as hotter climates will require more powerful units in order to perform the same job.
Households in cooler climates might only require a breeze in order to lower temperatures, in which case a ceiling fan will do the trick.
Other factors you may need to bear in mind include the size of the area to be cooled.
You will save money by choosing an efficient appliance that is the correct size to cool down the space it is designed for.
One trick to knock down prices in warmer climates is to use your air conditioner first to cool down the air and then to use a fan to circulate it.
A fan is a more energy efficient item, providing you have selected the best one to suit your individual needs.
Posted by Richard West.