There was a time when choosing your home was dependent on cost, location and current and future needs. However, these days it is important that homebuyers and homeowners choose homes with high energy efficiency ratings, as it has a significant impact on your household costs and also the resale value of the house.
The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) is the provider of the energy rating scheme for Australia. They evaluate new and existing homes using a star based system which ranges from zero to 10. The more stars your home gets, the more efficient it is. The average Australian home uses 40% of its energy on heating and cooling the home. The star system is focused on artificial heating and cooling, so the less dependent your home is on artificial thermal controls, the better star rating it will achieve.
There are a number of ways that you can improve the energy rating of your home. Some methods involve changes in attitude and becoming more energy aware, while methods involve structural adaptations and additions.
Tips for Energy Saving
Making small changes to the way you use appliances can help reduce your energy costs substantially. Here are a few tips to look out for in each room of your home to improve energy efficiency.
- Switch all appliances off at the wall.
- Use a power board: Allows you to switch off multiple appliances at the same time.
- Use lamps or spotlights instead of main lights.
- Use energy saving globes.
- When buying a television, check the wattage and the energy rating. Under 150 watts is low consumption.
- Generally, LCD televisions are more energy efficient than Plasma.
- Keep lids on pots to reduce cooking time and energy.
- Set fridge temperatures to 4-5 degrees and freezer to -14 to -18 degrees Celsius. Keep in a cool ventilated spot away from the oven.
- Checking the energy efficiency rating of new fridges is very important. The difference between a 2 and a five star energy rating can result in operating costs of up to $1000 over a 15 year period.
- Use water economically: Simple changes like reducing shower time can have a big impact on your bills. Also, use energy saving shower heads and have the hot water temperature at 50 degrees Celsius.
- Again, switching off all appliances at the wall when not in use will save energy and money.
- Research shows that replacing a single flush toilet system with a duel flush system can result in saving 1000 litres a year which equates to around $50 each year for the life of the system.
Reduce Unnecessary Heating
As mentioned earlier, energy star ratings are heavily dependent on your home’s need for artificial cooling and heating. There are simple measures which can be taken in order to reduce this and all that is needed is a small change in approach.
*Keep doors closed in order to keep heat in rooms and also by keeping them shut in unused rooms, it reduces the area that needs to be heated.
- Add extra blankets or a hot water bottle in the bedroom instead of heating the room.
- Keep curtains and shades closed in order to maintain a constant temperature and reduce the need for artificial heating or cooling.
Avail of Government Grants for Energy Efficiency
Having an energy efficient home will not only help save on your bills and increase your resale value, there is also the added bonus of government rebates when you use certain energy practices in your home. The Australian Government are committed to improving energy efficiency across the country in order to reap economic benefits and also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The rebates vary across states but it is possible to search on the Your Energy Savings website to find out more on rebates specific to your area.
Choose Solar Energy
In order to dramatically decrease your energy bill and to improve general energy efficiency the best option is to buy solar panels. Solar power gives us access to the vast quantities of renewable energy available from the sun and the fact that Australia experiences more solar radiation than the majority of the planet means it would be foolish not to exploit this source.
The solar panels are usually placed on the roof in order to maximise the sun’s energy, allowing you to heat your home and your water. As a provider of your own electricity your home is less dependent on fossil fuels and therefore more energy efficient.
While there are set up costs to choosing solar energy, it is important to remember that buying solar panels is an investment which will result in financial saving over the long term. As mentioned, you are creating your own energy so you are not dependent on the national grid, but also, you can sell excess energy back to the grid. There is also the strong possibility that solar panels will add market value to your home.