Whether you want to cut unnecessary expenses or you are intent on doing your bit for the environment; making your home energy smart is not as hard as may you think.
There are plenty of options available to make the change.
Choose energy efficient products
Australia is lucky enough to have a high quality energy ratings label that all new white goods must adhere to, so choose products that are energy efficient whenever you can! If you are looking to upgrade your fridge, hot water system, or any other household item, make it a priority to consider how efficient these products are. A less efficient product will cost you more in the long run.
Watch out for bad habits
Yes, turn those lights off. But it’s not just leaving the lights on; boiling a full kettle even if you are making just one coffee can quickly add up. Be energy conscious around the house, turn appliances off when you are not using them and use ‘eco’ modes on washing machines and dishwashers.
Invest in insulation
While air-conditioning and heating will help to alter the temperature of your house, high quality insulation will greatly reduce the need to heat and cool, and will help to retain the desired temperature for longer. If your ceiling, floors and walls are well insulated you will benefit from substantially cheaper electricity bills, and will find that the temperature of your house is typically far more comfortable than it used to be. Of course, this is easier to do for brand new homes during construction, but many existing homes can be fitted out relatively easily as well, especially in houses with pitched roofs.
Reduce the temperature of thermostats
Of course if you’ve taken the expense and time to instal a heating or cooling system, you probably aren’t prepared to let it sit idle. However, by making a very small adjustment (even one or two degrees) to your thermostats, you can save a lot of energy! On cold days, when heating up a room, keep the thermostat between 18-20°C and on hot days aim for between 24-26°C. Adjust your clothing, wear warm clothes in winter and cooler ones in summer, and with that you're well on your way to saving a significant amount of energy. Another easy way to save energy (if you have electric hot water) is to turn down its thermostat also. An electric hot water system works by heating water (and maintaining that heat) throughout the day so that it is always ready for when you need it. Chances are you use a kettle to produce boiling water, so you don’t need scalding hot water anyway. This will also save you a substantial amount of electricity, and can still produce hot water greater than what is required for a shower.
Shut out draughts
Possibly one of the easiest changes to make, and which will also help to insulate your home, is to get rid of draughts. Check windows and doors for gaps. Use soft rubber sealing tape to seal windows as they shut, and get a ‘draught stopper’ for any doors with gaps under them. For other holes or gaps, such as near piping, fill with silicon or an alternative sealant. Your local hardware store will stock all of these items, and you barely need any craftsman skills for the work. Note however that you will still need to ensure there is good ventilation in some rooms, particularly bathrooms, near fireplaces, and in kitchens.
Check your power supplier
Check the rates you are paying for your power bill. In many cases it can be beaten elsewhere, even if only as a limited time promotional offer to bring you on as a new client. A few cents per kilowatt-hour add up very quickly so be sure to make time for a little investigation, maybe a phone call to a competing energy supplier is justified.
The Tesla Powerwall
If you’ve heard anything at all about Tesla, you will know that they produce world class electric cars that are redefining the auto industry in America (and the world). The company has a mission “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. So what does this have to do with your home? Tesla as a company has invested significant time and research into batteries. The same technology that powers their state-of-the-art cars can also save you significant money in your home.
The Tesla Powerwall is a battery that hooks into your house. It can be connected to solar panels (storing energy for later use - previously a very difficult and expensive task), but it can also be used to take advantage of cheap off peak power supply. Charge the battery overnight on cheap electricity and use that same power the next day. Couple the powerwall with a solar system and you can shave serious dollars off every power bill. This is certainly a technology to keep an eye on.
Energy efficient lights
If you haven't already taken advantage of energy efficient lights... Well, why haven’t you? The quality of energy efficient lights is continuing to improve and their price is continuing to reduce. LED energy efficient bulbs are the latest globes capable of saving ridiculous amount of energy. While they do cost more to purchase, they also last far longer than traditional globes (35-50 times longer!), and can be found in a variety of different shades, yes, even warm yellows.
So whether you are looking for quick and easy solutions to save a couple of dollars, or whether you want to make an investment that will put a substantial dent in your quarterly bill, there’s never a better time than now to get going and make your home energy smart.