"When you think sustainable homes, you probably don’t picture a big home, big swimming pool, multiple fridges, home theatre, regular clothes dryer use and certainly not air conditioning outside living spaces. Yet the Vicker Ridge [photographed] incorporates all of the above, and is well on the way to achieving net zero energy and water."
Attendees at our recent Energy Freedom event discovered these 9 essential steps to achieving net zero bills and emissions.
1. Find & Fix Your Draughts
According to Sustainability Victoria, up to 25% of winter heat loss from existing houses is caused by draughts. Here is their DIY guide on how to find and seal the air leaks in your home and some of the products that support this. Our energy assessment clients are often surprised to find air leaks in hidden places like around pipe penetrations, and inside wardrobe and pantry doors.
Fully insulating your home can cut your heating use by 80% (BZE). Although the best time to insulate your home is during construction, you can still achieve significant efficiency gains by retrofitting insulation to an existing home. Australian Government's "Your Home" provides an in-depth guide to insulation.
3. Choose Efficient Heating & Cooling
According to Your Energy Savings, 40% of the energy we use at home is for heating and cooling. Heat pumps are now considered the best option for many, and buying the right size machine for your space will give you the most efficient outcome. Choice offers helpful comparisons and cost saving tips in their independent buying guides for heating and cooling.
4. Select the Best Cooking and Other Appliances
Choosing appliances with the highest star rating you can afford is an effective way to reduce your energy needs. The Australian Government's Energy Rating website is rich with information about how to make the best choices for your home. Inductions cooktops were a hot topic at our event, did you know you can check if your pots will work by seeing if a magnet will stick to the underside of your pot?
5. Choose Efficient Lighting
LED lights are cool when in use, the most energy and cost efficient, mercury-free, and suitable for remote and off-grid applications due to their low energy requirements. They can be 30-90% cheaper to run than other types of lights, helping the environment and your back pocket. Remember to consult an electrician for wired in jobs.
6. Monitor Your Energy Use
In-home displays can reduce electricity use by 5-15% by allowing you to monitor your electricity consumption, providing detailed information about how much energy you’re using, and when. Canstar Blue offer a helpful buyer's guide.
7. Investigate and Collect Renewable Energy
Now you know how much energy your home uses, you have the power to harvest your own. People who install solar panels and experiencing returns on their investment in as little as 5 years so it is not only great for our environment, it is financially sound as well. Tindo in SA design and manufacture Australia's only locally made solar panels. Baw Baw, Latrobe, and Wellington residents have the added bonus of access to bulk-buy pricing for solar panels, inverters, and batteries.
8. Optimise Your Water Heating
Up to a third of household energy is used to heat water, and about 30% of that energy is wasted due to heat loss from the tank and associated pipe work. Heat-pumps are capable of reducing the energy requirements of heating water by as much as 70% and can be preordered from Earthworker Energy in Morwell.
9. Cover and Glaze Your Windows
Up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through windows. The most effective ways to reduce this are to boost the windows by double or triple glazing them, and to add high performance coverings. Because of the airflow created by cool air dropping to the ground at the window, the biggest gains are achieved by installing heavy drapes that come within 1cm of the floor and surrounding walls, with pelmets at the top.
For a comprehensive DIY guide to achieving Energy Freedom using these 9 steps, you can purchase the Energy Freedom Home book, or see our range of home energy assessments, designed empower you with personalised inspection and practical assistance to make your home as comfortable and cheap to run as possible.
Thanks to Vicker Ridge and Energy Freedom / Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) for the photo and quoted text.