Living in a green house has taken on an entirely new meaning since our parents generation, and there's plenty you can do to make a difference in your new or current abode. Jan Prichard, Origin's General Manager of Customer Care, has the following advice.
Solar is a great way to save on energy costs and reduce your impact on the environment. Depending on your location and actual energy use, households with solar can expect to save around $1000 - $2000 on their annual energy bill. Residential solar systems typically cost between $4000 - $8000. For a bigger 10kW system, prices are $8000 - $14,000. With hot water making up approximately 21 per cent of a household's energy use, investing in a solar powered hot water system can be more cost effective in the long run than traditional electric or gas powered systems.
UPTAKE OF BATTERIES
Currently, only four per cent of all Australian households have a home battery installed. More than one third of Australians however, believe the installation of a home battery unit would also increase the value of their home. Almost a third of Australians would pay up to $5000 or more for a home equipped with solar and a home battery, meaning the installation could provide additional benefits through added home value, beyond the benefits of daily energy savings and carbon emissions reductions.
Lighting makes up around six per cent of household energy use and when it comes to efficient lighting in a modern home, LED downlights have set a new standard - they're long lasting and only use about a third of the energy of halogen lighting. For homes with halogen downlights already installed, switching five 50w halogen downlights for two 15w compact fluorescent light bulbs could save between $80 - $140 per year.
For new home builds, it's also important to consider window and skylight placement and sun orientation to optimise natural light. Generally in Australia it's best to orientate your living areas and windows to the north, keeping your most used rooms warm, light and bright while reducing your reliance on electrical lighting during the day.
Installing good quality insulation could save up to 45 per cent on heating and cooling costs. Ceiling insulation in a house roof space will absorb or reflect 30 - 45 per cent of heat entering the home.
A new home build should also include double glazed windows and doors to contribute to the energy efficiency standards of new builds today. This will help block out noise and reduce heat penetration by up to 40 per cent in comparison to standard glass.
HEATING AND COOLING
With heating and cooling adding up to around 40 per cent of a household's energy use, it's important to consider how you set up your air conditioning and heating in a new home to help optimise efficiency and minimise costs long term. When considering a new unit, split systems will be beneficial year-round and can be more effective and efficient than portable units. In fact, homes warming up with a split system can save up to $572 over winter depending on where you live, when compared to a portable unit. If you're considering a whole house ducted unit or refrigerated cooling, consider zoning capabilities for different rooms, which could save you thousands over the course of a year.
Installing ceiling fans can be a low-cost method to help moderate temperatures and cool down the body, particularly in humid areas. Installing good quality window furnishings is another simple way to help maintain the temperature of your home, reduce reliance on heating/cooling units and save money on your bills.
Small details when building a new home can make a big difference long term. While some new homes have limited space, finding space to install a washing line will save you around $80 per year compared to using a clothes dryer, for example.
It's also common to replace big-ticket household staples such as your dishwasher, washing machine and TVs when you move home. Be sure to look out for the energy efficiency label and energy saving features - this includes energy eco modes, zones in fridges, and energy saving options on a TV.