Five ways to lower energy consumption for a more sustainable home
Sustainable living is a win-win situation. Not only are you doing your bit for the planet, but you can also be clever about it and save money at the same time. So, the question is really not whether you should do it, but how you should go about it. You've come to the right place! Following is a quick guide that will set you on the road to sustainability.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get into the business of sustainable living is by installing energy-efficient LED lights. These lights are slightly more expensive than traditional bulbs, you end up saving money in the medium and long term as they don't use as much electricity.
According to Sustainability Victoria, LED lighting is more than 60% more efficient than fluorescent and halogen lighting. And according to Energy.gov.au, a quality LED bulb costs $4 a year to run in the average home, compared to $253 (in running and replacement costs) to have a household of halogen bulbs.
Additionally, you won't have to climb the ladder to change globes anywhere near as often, with most estimates quoting a LED lifespan of up to 50,000 hours (or 25 years).
If your house isn't insulated, you may want to consider getting this done as soon as possible. Particularly if you're in the process of building a new house, spending the additional money up-front to get some quality insulation installed means you'll not only be warmer in winter and cooler in summer, but you won't spend anywhere near as much on air conditioning, fans and heaters over the longer term. Properly insulating your home can save you up to 45 per cent on heating and cooling bills, according to Energy Australia.
Trees certainly add a lovely look and feel to your backyard and front garden, but did you know they also work as natural air conditioners? If you can't plant some greenery next to the house, consider putting in some sunshades over the windows – or, if the budget allows, a verandah, which can block up to 90 per cent of the sun's heat.
4. Building materials
If you're about to build or put on an extension, then take the time to think carefully about the materials you'll use. Not only will this increase your home's thermal comfort and energy-efficiency, but it can also reduce your environmental impact. Look for options that are made from recycled materials or that can be recycled in the future.
One option offered by Victorian builder, Olnee Constructions is a material called 'stabilised rammed earth' (SRE): a blend of raw materials mixed with a small percentage of cement, water and waterproofing. According to the company, this material offers a low embodied energy, high thermal mass, strength and durability, zero maintenance, sound insulative qualities, and fire resistance – not to mention being easy on the eyes. Architectural designer, Zana Wright is a big fan of SRE, saying that homes incorporating it can feel warm during cold weather and cool during hot weather without relying on active heating or cooling systems.
Double-glazed windows may cost more initially, but they can reduce your heat loss by up to 50 per cent during the colder months. It also works in the opposite direction, blocking out heat rays that come in through the window. Whatever the season, double glazing enables you to save in the long-term with reduced power bills.
There are other benefits, too. As double-glazed windows are typically thicker and sealed tighter than other windows, there's an additional safety component as they're harder to break by burglars, and they offer better sound-proofing – which can be a boon if you live on a noisy street. Plus, with the reduced moisture on the windowpanes due to the airtight seal, it lessens the likelihood of mould building up.
This material has been prepared for information purposes only. This should not be taken as constituting professional advice. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to determine how this information relates to your own circumstances.