As we move into winter, we start to think about keeping our house warm. Here are some ideas of things you can do to make your home both warmth in winter and cooler in summer!
The use of heaters can be of benefit for warming, but we need to do more than just plug a heater in, unless we want our electricity bill to go through the roof. Currently, according to AGL, 40% of our electricity bill, for most Australians, is spent on heating or cooling our homes! BTW, 10% is spent on appliances that are spent on standy-by and not being actively used!
Keeping your house warm or cool is where insulating your home becomes very important. Unfortunately a lot of older homes are not built to the standards of today and are not ideal in their insulating properties. When we are renovating or extending our homes, it can be a great time to ensure the ‘way’ we build increases our homes insulation, and also ventilation.
Reducing temperature extremes in your home can slow down the transfer of hot and cold air from inside your house to outside – and in turn, help to lower your energy bills. A well-insulated house is cooler in summer, warmer in winter, and less expensive to run all year round. On the flipside, an un-insulated house can lose up to 50% of its heat through the ceiling in winter, plus gain 60% of its heat through the ceiling and walls during summer. Insulation isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s an investment that can pay for itself many times over. Not only can it save you energy and money, it can make your home more comfortable while also extending the life of your heating and cooling appliances.
Simply by applying weather strips around the inside of door and window frames, you can stop air from coming in or out of your home, and reduce your energy use – along with your energy bills
WHAT USES THE MOST AMOUNT OF ENERGY?
Most homes use 40% of their energy on heating and/or cooling.
Here’s how to keep your energy use down.
- Only heat and cool the rooms you’re using, rather than the whole house.
- Keep your thermostat set between 18 – 20⁰C in winter and24 – 27⁰C in summer. Particularly for air conditioners, every degree lower can increase their usage costs by up to 10% (depending on how efficiently your appliance runs).
- Insulation and draught stopping are essential year-round, and can make sure you’re maximising the benefits of your heating and cooling appliances.
- Fans are much cheaper to run than your air conditioner. They cost about 2 cents an hour, plus can reduce the temperature of a room by about 3 degrees. In summer, use your fan with your air conditioner to circulate the cool air and reduce the time you need to run the air conditioning. In winter, fans can be used on low speeds to push the hot air down from the ceiling towards you.
- Heating water contributes up to 30% of your home energy use. Installing a low-flow showerhead can reduce the amount of hot water you use, and in turn, how much water you need to heat. Also, while instantaneous hot water systems can cost more to install, they can save you money in the long run by only heating water when you need it, rather than heating it around the clock.
THE BIGGEST ENERGY WASTERS IN YOUR HOME
One of the biggest home energy wasters is standby power, which is the energy an appliance uses when it’s plugged in and switched on at the wall, but not being used. In 2010, Australia’s average standby power use was 81.8 Watts per household – or around 10% of the country’s total residential electricity use – and together we’re spending over $1.1 billion a year on powering appliances which don’t need to be on. With the typical Aussie house running 67 appliances on mains power – with some powering as many as 175 appliances – how many dollars could you be throwing away on standby power at home?
- On winter mornings, open your curtains or blinds on the north, east and west sides of your home to allow the sun to naturally heat your home.
- Set your thermostat between 18 – 20⁰C in winter to maximise the efficiency of your appliance. Close your curtains and blinds at night to keep the heat in.
- Place draught sealing, like foam strips or door snakes, along the bottom of windows and doors to maximise your heating.
- If you have ducted heating, close vents in unused rooms to create zoned areas in your home.
- Close doors to any unoccupied rooms to maintain the temperature in the areas you’re using.
- Close chimney ventilation outlets, flues and ducts when you’re not using them.
- Dress for the weather. It may sound simple, but once you’re in the most appropriate clothing, you may not need to run the heater after all.
Your home can lose up to 40% of its heating in winter and gain up to 87% of its heat in summer through its windows. So, by improving their performance, you can help reduce your energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Heavyweight curtains can protect your home from outside temperatures more effectively than blinds.
- If you can’t install pelmets, use rolled towels on top of your curtains or blinds to stop draughts.
- Install external blinds or plant deciduous trees in front of your north and west facing windows to help protect them from gaining unwanted summer heat.
- Double-glazing your windows and skylights can help keep warm air in during winter and cool air in summer, plus reduce outside noise penetration.
- Window films can be a cost-effective alternative to double-glazing existing windows.
* Some of this information with thanks to AGL
MORE TIPS AND ENERGY SAVING TOOLS
Sustainability information and research – mefl.com.au
Energy Star Ratings – energyrating.gov.au
Green Home Cooling e-book – ata.org.au/news/new-green-home-cooling-e-book
Water saving – yourenergysavings.gov.au/water
Reducing home energy costs – sustainability.vic.gov.au
Insulation – icanz.org.au
Technical information on home design – yourhome.gov.au
NSW Government – resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energy-consumers/sustainable-energy