How To Make Sure Your New Home Is Energy Efficient

Australian households consume 10.5% of Australia’s total energy. And although energy-efficient home design is chipping away at household energy use, your wallet will thank you dearly after following these additional tips for an energy-efficient home.

What uses the most power?

Thanks to the all-seeing eye of the government, we actually have a pretty good idea of what uses the most power. So, let’s break down household energy use by category to give you an idea of where the biggest energy-consuming culprits are.

  • Heating and Cooling contributes to roughly 40 to 45% of household energy use.
  • Hot Water contributes to roughly 23% of household energy use.
  • Lighting contributes to roughly 7% of household energy use.
  • Appliances and Technology contribute to roughly 25% of household energy use.

Unsure of how to make your home more energy-efficient, look no further than our list of power solutions for your home and your power bill.

Switch it off

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit: electronics. Gone are the days when the only things that needed to be plugged in were a few lamps, a fridge, the washing machine and a TV. Nowadays, home appliances and technology consume an average of 25% of household energy. And although newer appliances are far more efficient than the models they replace, upgrading technology isn’t always financially viable.

If you’re unable to upgrade or replace inefficient appliances, switch them off at the outlet when they’re not in use to save on your power bill. Get into the habit of turning off any device that shows a red light when idle.

Even USB wall chargers are a danger to your power bill. Just one unused charger can suck up about 0.26W. While that might not sound like a lot, consider how many devices you own and the number of chargers associated with them.

Energy Star Rating Label

Continuing on the appliance bandwagon, we now move to energy rating labels. Mandatory in Australia for fridges, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, TVs and even computer monitors, these energy rating labels inform consumers about how efficient the appliance is.

Other appliances of the same type and size are compared to determine a star rating on a scale of 1 to 6. Devices exceeding these efficiency ratings can show how a modified label with a ‘coronet’ of extra stars extends the scale to 10 stars, the Super Efficiency Rating.

There’s even a complete list of all registered products on the Energy Rating website.

While the stars are easy to read, the most critical information on energy star rating labels is the estimated annual electricity usage in kWh per year. Because rating scales are constantly adjusted, energy consumption is the most reliable metric for comparing old and new appliances, especially when estimating energy costs.

Energy Rating Calculator

If you thought the Energy Rating Labels were helpful, just wait until you see the Energy Rating Calculator. Designed to help Aussies save on their energy bills, you can use the calculator to compare the complete range of appliances and their energy usage.

Buy Once, Cry Once

No matter who you are, you probably love a bargain. Unfortunately, affordability often comes at the cost of quality, which introduces us to the paradox of cheapness. While we won’t scold you for getting a discount or going for the more affordable model, you should definitely consider the following. Purchasing a cheaper appliance may cost you more in the long run if it’s not energy efficient. Before making any major appliance purchase, consider the following:

  1. Energy efficiency between models
  2. Yearly energy consumption
  3. How much will it cost me in ten years?

TV Buying Tip: each additional star rating roughly equates to 20 per cent more energy efficiency.

Let There Be LED Lights!

When Thomas Edison came up with the incandescent lightbulb in 1880, it consumed 16-watts and lasted about 1,500 hours. Unfortunately, incandescent bulbs are incredibly inefficient due to the amount of heat they produce. By the 1950s, researchers had only improved the energy efficiency of incandescent bulbs by 10 per cent, pushing towards newer alternatives like Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) bulbs and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

Installing energy-efficient lights in your home is a surefire way to reduce your energy consumption and make your home more energy-efficient. Even the Australian government is making the switch, with the majority of all incandescent bulbs and mains voltage halogen bulbs replaced with more efficient LEDs and CFLs. Why? Brightness and power consumption.

A LED bulb consumes roughly 10W, whereas an Incandescent bulb consumes 60W.

When comparing the energy efficiency of light fixtures for your home, consider lumens instead of watts. Lumens measure the amount of light produced by a light bulb, i.e. brightness. Watts, on the other hand, is the amount of energy required to power something.

Insulation Saves Money

Here’s a scary figure, heating and cooling accounts for around 40% of all household energy use. That’s nearly half of your power bill going towards keeping your home at the appropriate temperature, a task that becomes so much easier with proper insulation.

Insulation for ceilings, floors and walls can dramatically reduce your energy bill, helping you stay warm during winter and cooler in summer, without needing to resort to air conditioning or household heating. Speaking of air conditioners and household heaters, you’ll want to know about the Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program before making a purchase.

Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling

Where you live in Australia can significantly impact the energy efficiency of your air conditioner. To combat this, the Energy Efficiency Advisory Team (EEAT) has developed a zone-based energy efficiency labelling, which considers where you live in Australia. The Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL) appears on all water heating and space conditioning appliances, regardless of technology.

You should also consider the temperature of your thermostat. While it might be tempting to warm up the home during winter, we highly recommend rugging up and turning down the temperature. Summer, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast altogether. While wearing lighter clothing can make the temperature more bearable, every one-degree decrease in temperature can save you money.

Space Heaters Suck

On that note, space heaters are a quick way to jack up your power bill. On average, space heaters use 1,500 Watts of electricity and can cost you about 15 cents an hour to operate. Better to throw on a jumper or two, then pay for it later.

The Power of the Sun

Renewable energy sources are the future. Cheaper than fossil fuels and more accessible than ever before, installing solar panels will make a remarkable difference to the energy efficiency of your home, drastically reducing your carbon footprint and your power bill. Coupled with battery storage, you can power your home even on a cloudy day.

Windows

Glass windows bring the outside inside. But outside could be colder or warmer than you want it to be inside, which means heating or cooling down your home and more power consumption. To avoid this, you need to consider window treatment. It can be as simple as installing blinds or blackout curtains for added insulation or total efficiency by installing double glazing or window films.

Was That a Draught?

There’s something else outside that can impact the temperature in your home, and it’s called wind. Much like a water leak, heat can escape through the tiniest of cracks, while a slight breeze can introduce the cold winter air through even the smallest gap. Stop draughts in the tracks by sealing the edges around windows and doors. If you’re having trouble finding the cracks, wait for a windy day, the draught will find you.

The Coolest Roof

Black and other dark coloured roofs may look cool, but they’re actually doing your home a disservice by dramatically increasing the amount of heat that is captured. Known as the Urban Heat Island Effect, dark roofs, when coupled with less green space and an increase in hard surfaces, can raise temperatures in urban areas by between 1C and 13C on average.

Cool roofs use highly reflective materials to reduce light absorption, helping to keep homes cooler in summer. Even the NSW State government is taking steps to outright ban dark roofs as part of its environmental planning rules. If passed, lighter roofs could decrease ambient temperatures in Sydney by up to 2.4C, according to research by the University of NSW.

Washing with Cold Water

This energy-efficient tip is pretty self-explanatory. Use cold water whenever possible to avoid the added power costs of heating water. Need we say more?

Building an Energy-Efficient Home

Bring your energy-efficient home idea to life with the Better Built Homes. Discover for yourself why they’ve been voted the Best Home Builder in Sydney & NSW for three years running – value for money, flexible house designs, a genuinely personal service, and a house that lasts a lifetime. Get in touch to start building an energy-efficient home today!

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Laine Matthews

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