Cut heating costs this winter

Sustainable Home

BREAZE Inc. Board member, Therese Footner has put together a list of things householders can do to make their homes more energy efficient, cutting energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Steps to enhance the energy efficiency of your home:

1. Draft proofing your living area.

a. Check the fit of doors and windows within their frames – rectify gaps around the bottom of doors with weather seals and draft stoppers that are easy to fit.
b. Check for excessive and possibly outdated ventilation, especially in older homes.
c. Check for cracks between architraves and walls, skirting boards and walls as well as between floorboards – cracks between architraves or skirting boards and walls can be filled with a high-grade sealant.
d. Chimney places in older homes may need to be sealed safely.
e. It may be worth checking exhaust fans and replace them with ones that seal shut when turned off as they may be allowing a backdraft of external air to enter the house when they are not in use.

2. Check lighting and change to LEDs where possible.
3. Insulation can make a big difference to the effectiveness of heating your home.

If it is possible, check the type and amount of insulation in the ceiling space or walls of your home. If practical you may be able to install more insulation which should help to reduce heating bills.

4. If possible, upgrade windows to double glazed which will reduce heat loss and help maintain a more constant temperature.

For those preferring to do it themselves there are now a number of DIY double glazing kits available in hardware stores. A very cheap DIY fix is to use bubble wrap to cover windows as a temporary measure. Insulated blinds can also reduce heat loss if they are well fitted.

5. Buy energy efficient appliances:

These make a difference to the amount of energy used. Consider replacing your gas water heater with an electric heat pump or solar hot water system. The Victorian state government has launched a program that offers rebates on upgrading certain appliances to improve efficiency. Solar Victoria currently offers rebates to upgrade to a reverse cycle split system.

6. Government assistance:

The federal and Victorian state government department websites offer information and sometimes incentives to reduce the energy you require to run your home.
• For example, you can ask for an assessment of the energy performance of your home, based on the Victorian Residential Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
• The CSIRO also offers information on its website.
• Beyond Zero Emissions offers up to date publications that can help with transitioning to a more efficient and comfortable home.

7. When renovating:

Consider capturing more sunlight along the north side of the house to increase light and warmth, a good long-term investment.

Energy used to heat homes, particularly gas, is a significant contributor to greenhouse emissions. By making your home energy efficient you will save on energy bills and also reduce emissions. If you have gas heating and reverse cycle air conditioning, do consider closing doors and using the reverse cycle air con to heat living rooms instead of gas, whenever you can.

Resources with information on improving energy efficiency in the home

Beyond Zero Emissions 2015, The energy -freedom home. Scribe, Brunswick.
Wright, J Osman, P & Ashworth, P 2009, The CSIRO home energy saving handbook. Macmillan, Sydney.
Institute of Sustainable Futures 2013, Your home 5th Ed. Dept. of Environment and Energy, Canberra.

Websites Cranney, K & Wright, A, Our top tips on renovating or retrofitting for energy-efficiency, 27/11/20
Energy Efficient Homes can help save dollars and the environment – by Rochelle Kirkham