Increase comfort and reduce bills
With costs of energy increasing and rising greenhouse gas emissions we all need to make changes in how we live at home. Climate change is affecting all of us, but whether you are a renter, home owner or builder there are things you can do to take action to save money and increase the comfort of your home.
Under the National Construction Code our municipality is classified as Climate Zone 7 Cool Temperate. It means that our homes use substantially more energy to achieve thermal comfort and generally require more heating than homes with the same NatHERS star ratings in other climates.
There are some key design objectives that should be taken into account for this climate zone - find more information here.
Tips for Renters
If you are renting it may seem hard to make changes to your home to create an impact. However there are many things you can do! The best place to start is to check out the Victorian (Green) Smart Renters' Guide, which includes a handy checklist of actions.
Also did you know that simple small steps can mean big savings for your household? For instance, the following actions could save a household of four about $760 a year:
- If you've got a second fridge, getting rid of it could save around $172 a year.
- Switching off the game console after use could save up to $193 a year.
- Using the clothesline instead of the dryer once a week could save $79 a year.
- Installing a water-efficient 4-star showerhead could save $315 a year on water bills. You’ll also save on your energy bills because less water will need to be heated.
Learn more tips for renters
Tips for Landlords
There are many benefits for landlords to explore implementing sustainable features in their rental properties. For instance, sustainable features like solar panels can provide an advantage over other properties. By having an efficient and healthy house which reduces tenant utility bills, you could retain tenants for longer which can reduce on marketing costs and vacant days.
Furthermore, when you go to sell your property it may be more attractive to buyers, and from a cost perspective you can claim the depreciation on upgrades to numerous items. These can include heating and cooling systems, efficient hot water systems, curtains, external shading and efficient water taps and shower heads.
A great first step is to work with your tenants as they will often know where the issues lie and will help achieve the best possible outcome.
Tips for buyers, builders and renovators
When you are building your own home, buying off the plan or retrofitting, the decisions you make based on building plans and discussions with developers and builders will have a long-lasting impact on the livability of your house, environmental impact and ongoing running costs.
Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. To help, below we have a list of things you should consider. Be check out yourhome.gov.au for the full list of suggested actions.
When buying or building a home do not underestimate the importance of a home’s orientation to the sun’s path in both summer and winter. Good orientation will increase the energy efficiency of your home making it cheaper to run and provide more comfort.
For our climate zone try to:
- Maximise the use of north-facing walls and passively shaded glazing.
- Locate major living spaces on the northern side of the dwelling and non-living or cooler rooms on the southern side (bedrooms and utility rooms)
- Minimise external wall areas, especially east and west.
- Consider current and future potential overshadowing from height and spread of trees and nearby homes and buildings.
Image source: Your Home
So many new homes are being built with black roofs, however did you stop to think how much money that could be costing you? That is because your rooftop colour influences your home’s internal temperature and, as a rule, a darker roof will make your home hotter as it absorbs heat while a light colour roof reflects light and heat. There are also now some roof paints that reflect infrared radiation, look like a darker surface but perform thermally like a lighter one.
Remember, a lighter coloured roof paint can reduce energy absorption by 50% or more so it is definitely something you should give some thought.
Installing a solar PV system will allow you to generate renewable energy and reduce your electricity bills. The best position for panels is on a roof facing north so they have good access to the sun. Some west-facing panels can be useful to generate more electricity on a summer afternoon. On average a solar PV system warranty is 20 years. For most household systems, it can be paid back in under five years making it a worthy investment for your home.
To check out current rebate opportunities under the Solar Homes Program please visit Solar Victoria.
Heating & Cooling
Did you know heating makes up 38% if the amount of energy used in a typical Australian home? Worry not, there are a number of actions you can take to reduce the amount of energy your household consumes.
In living areas, set your thermostat between 18°C and 20°C. Every degree higher can increase your heating costs by around 15%.
You also use ceiling fans to move the hot air that builds up near high ceilings, and in summer these fans can provide a cool breeze.
To increase comfort and heat escaping through the glass you can install heavy curtains with pelmets, and ensure all draughts around doors and windows are sealed.
For more information visit Sustainability Victoria.
 Residential Baseline Study, 2016
Did you know windows can severely impact on the heating and cooling loads of a building? In fact, up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost in winter, and up to 87% of its heat gained in summer through windows.
Here are some things to consider when building or renovating:
- Passive solar shading (for example verandahs, window awnings or deciduous trees) to protect north facing windows from harsh summer conditions and that still allows winter sun is essential.
- Use high SHGC, low U-value double glazing.
- Specify insulating or thermally improved frames.
- Minimise and shade all east and west-facing glass in summer.
- Consider using adjustable shading to some west-facing glass areas to boost afternoon solar heat gains in winter and allow variable solar access in spring and autumn.
- Ventilation - design window locations and style to allow optimum cooling breezes in hot weather.
Do not underestimate the importance of insulation. It acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential for keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer and the most economical time to install it is during construction. Another thing to take note of is draught sealing for homes building in our municipality as draughts can account for up to 25% of heat loss from a home in our cold winters.
- Use bulk insulation in walls, ceilings and exposed floors.
- Use heavy drapes with sealed pelmets to insulate glass in winter.
- Insulate all thermal mass externally (including rammed earth and mud brick).
- Use high levels of bulk insulation in ceilings and line underside of roofing material with down-facing reflective foil.
- Provide airlocks to entries.
As our region’s population grows and our climate change impacts upon our weather patterns, so does the pressure on water use. When building or renovating there are two things to keep in mind: reducing the quantity of water the home consumes and improving the quality.
Installing a rainwater tank can provide an alternative supply during water restrictions and droughts, reduce your water bills and help reduce environmental impacts beyond your home.
Here are some more ways to improve on water usage:
- When landscaping your garden seek out native low water-consuming plants that can adapt better to our changing climate. Please see the North East Water Wise Garden brochure(PDF, 2MB) for more local information.
- Investigate grey-water opportunities to supply irrigation systems.
- When choosing appliances such as dishwashers, toilets or washing machines seek out a product that has a high water efficiency rating (also known as WELS rating).
- Consider a heat pump that is more efficient than conventional electric water heaters. Unlike a solar hot water system, it does not take up roof space where your solar panels can go.
Building your own Home – Sustainable Materials
Buying an energy efficient property off the plan
Questions to ask your builders
For more resources, have a chat with our Sustainability Officer on 03 5722 0888.