What are some simple renovations to make my house more energy efficient?
Often when renovating you can make a few simple changes to reduce the amount you will need to spend on your gas and electricity prices.
It is at this crucial planning stage you can improve your comfort while reducing your heating, cooling and water costs in the future. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind.
How to use the space wisely
Before creating an addition to your home think about the space you already have. Can you repurpose it? You might be able to better design the rooms you have to create more storage or living space - whatever you require.
Remember, a larger floor plan will rack up higher electricity bills as it requires more gas and electricity in order to heat the space.
If you decide you do need the addition, site it wisely. Adding a room in an empty space of your section where it is most likely to catch the sun in winter but enjoy summer shade will make a huge difference to your energy efficiency levels.
It is also important to plan for the future. The more flexible your plans, the more easily you can renovate again in future to adapt for changing needs over time.
Tips for windows and skylights
Heated air in winter and chilled air in summer can leak out windows if energy efficient choices are not made. A simple renovation could include opting for the best possible windows.
For some hints on how efficient these models are, look for the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) label. These feature two star ratings, one that will help you judge how well the window keeps warm air in and another indicating how well it stops heat from entering.
The star rating with more sway will depend on the climate you live in. For example, those in the cooler climates of Hobart and near the snowy mountains may be more concerned with keeping the heat in, while those in Darwin and Cairns may want to keep it out.
Windows and skylights with double glazing and timber or insulated frames are more likely to achieve higher star ratings.
You can also add items such as curtains, pelmets, blinds, shutters and external awnings to make temperature control even easier.
Do paint colours make a difference?
Selecting lighter coloured interior paints will make your house lighter - this means you can knock down your lighting prices as you won't have such a great need for light during the daytime.
If you are renovating an existing room, make sure you are careful removing any lead-based paint. If you are concerned about toxic fumes, consider low-emission paints.
How can I be sure I am choosing energy efficient appliances?
Energy efficient appliances will use less energy to complete the same job. This means there is no need to compromise your lifestyle or quality of these items.
A simple way to determine whether your appliances are energy efficient is to look for the energy rating label. The higher the stars, the better energy rating will be achieved.
You may also be entitled to rebates or assistance, depending on where you live.
What else can I do to lower my power bills?
Items such as low-flow showerheads and aerators in your taps can go a long way to lower your hot water bill as you then use less water.
You can also take steps such as washing your clothes in cold water, hanging your washing outside on the line and only using the dishwasher when it is full to lower your bills.
Another step is to do an electricity comparison. This will help you to lower your power bills as you may be able to switch to another supplier with cheaper prices.
Posted by Tim Wolfenden.