Seven energy efficient renovation projects to reduce your power bill
Need energy efficient renovation ideas that also reduce your power bill? We've got you covered.
Often the best time to think about ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home is when you're building a new home or renovating.
This is an exciting time but it can also be complicated, and stressful with all sorts of decisions to make. These include decisions about the design of the home, heating and cooling, insulation, outdoor areas and appliances. Your choices at the design and planning stage can improve not only your comfort but can cut your heating, cooling and water costs for many years to come.
Improving the performance of your heating and cooling will pay off not just on your power bill but by making your home more enjoyable year round. Clever thinking at the design stage can make a big difference to your budget.
There are many simple ways to renovate your home so it’s cool and comfortable and still reduce your energy costs.
You can save up to 40 per cent on your power bill by making improvements to windows, doors and reducing draughts and by adding extra shading like eaves, pergolas and plants can block up to 90 per cent of heat.
1. Home energy savings
Start with a home sustainability assessment, to identify areas where you can improve the energy efficiency of your existing home so you can target changes to get the most comfort and value for money from your renovations.
There are many experts who can give you advice on home energy efficiency and help with your planning.
2. Seal up your home against air leaks
Air leakage can account for 15 to 25 per cent of winter heat loss at home and is the main culprit in summer by allowing the cool air generated by your air conditioner to escape.
- Avoid up to 24 per cent of heat loss and gain by sealing gaps and cracks, and covering fan outlets and fireplaces when not in use.
In fact, Australian buildings leak warm or cold air two to four times more than European homes and buildings.
Fun fact: The angle of the sun changes dramatically from summer to winter. Well designed homes use this to their advantage to maximise the entry of the low winter sun and restrict the exposure to the high summer sun.
3. Outdoor areas
When creating a more energy efficient home, it can be what's outside that counts.
- Deciduous trees are an attractive way to shade windows, walls and your roof. Plant deciduous trees on the east and west sides to avoid the sun in summer but let it in winter.
- North-facing openings receive higher angle sun in summer which need narrower overhead shading than east or west-facing openings. Use a pergola to block the summer sun, or plant low-growing grasses and shrubs to reduce reflected heat and glare.
- Getting a pool? Shop around for an energy efficient pump and consider getting a cover. An inground pool can account for up to 30 per cent of your power bill and a pool pump can be the largest guzzler of electricity - sometimes using more energy than your washing machine, clothes dryer and dishwasher combined!
Make a splash with our pool energy saving tips
In winter, 25 to 35 per cent of an uninsulated home's warmth is lost through the roof. In summer, an uninsulated home will not be protected from the outside heat and living in Australia, when a heatwave hits, your house can quickly turn into a sauna!.
Insulation can be installed in all parts of your home:
- under the roofing material
- in the ceiling between the joists
- under verandah roofs in hot climates
- in bulkheads
- on the inside or outside of solid walls, within stud frames or brick cavities
- on the underside of suspended floors, or use insulation board under floor coverings where the subfloor is not accessible
- on the sides or the undersides of concrete slabs on the ground in cool climates
The size, position, glazing and frame composition of windows all influence how much heat or cold they gain or lose for your house.
Windows should seal well, the frame should conduct as little heat as possible, and the glazing should resist heat transfer. Thick curtains or blinds will also improve insulation.
The design and style (i.e. louvres, outward opening, sliding etc.) should also be chosen to enable passive ventilation pathways, but not obstruct or hinder them.
- Shade windows from the summer sun - look into external shading, such as awnings, roller blinds and one metre deep eaves on north-facing walls provide the most effective barrier against heat.
- Depending on your home and climate, window films can be a cost effective way of reducing solar heat gain, and can be applied to existing glass windows at lower cost than replacing windows.
According to the Victorian government, for every extra star on the labels of appliances and devices, you can save around 25 per cent in running costs. So if you’re going to upgrade your major appliances reach for the stars!
Sometimes high star-rated models cost more but choosing a cheaper appliance with fewer stars can cost you more in the long run.
During a kitchen renovation for example, also think about where to position the appliances. A fridge that is placed near an oven will need to work harder to remain cold and will use more energy.
7. Let there be light
Lighting design is another key factor for improving your home's energy efficiency and creating the right ambience.
Although fluorescent lighting is great, LEDs are the lighting technology of the future. The technology has come a long way over the last decade and will save you hundreds of dollars over (10-20 years) before needing replacement.
LEDs are one of the quickest returns on investment. They can fit most existing light fittings and now come in a range of designs and sizes, and even colours.
Try to avoid downlights, they use a lot of energy and penetrate through your insulation making your house hotter.
So whether you’ve already started your renovation or in the planning stages don’t forget to think about how making a few smart decisions can reduce your electricity costs.