The idea of creating an energy-efficient home is nothing new. However, as public concern for environmental issues rises in Australia, it has led to an increase in interest and development for more environmentally friendly homes. Now more than ever, it’s essential to understand your carbon footprint and reduce it.
In general, the history of energy-efficient housing in Australia has been a lengthy and significant one. The following are a few key points about the history of energy-efficient housing in Australia:
- In 2005, the average new house in Australia received a 3.5 to 4 rating, greater than the 1.5 to 2 rating for all Australian homes previously.
- In 2008, the Global Financial Crisis accelerated Australia’s Energy Efficient Homes package and Green Loans Scheme. Ceiling insulation installation was rolled out across Australia as part of the package.
- The NSEE introduced a 6-Star minimum standard for new housing in July 2010, which was fully implemented by May 2011. It is still today’s standard.
Overall, progress has been made over the years, and new laws and regulations have been put in place to help make it easier for people to build or renovate their homes in an energy-efficient way.
What is an energy-efficient home?
An energy-efficient home is one that uses less energy than a standard home. This can be done in several ways, such as using energy-efficient appliances, having proper insulation, and installing solar panels. In addition, some homes are “green” from the foundation up, with solar energy, wind, or even hydroelectricity used to generate power.
The ins-and-outs of energy efficient homes
To understand what constitutes a truly green home, it’s essential to separate the components that influence a house’s energy efficiency and consumption. While these systems are interconnected, each plays an important part in the overall picture of home energy efficiency.
The first step to creating an energy-efficient home is deciding on the design. Some homes are built specifically for environmental friendliness, while others can be easily modified or renovated into eco-friendly structures.
There are a variety of ways you can design your home with energy efficiency in mind. Most of the time, this design will include a floor plan that promotes energy efficiency with open airflow, sustainable landscaping, and advanced glazing. You can easily design a house with sustainable features yourself, but it’s important to consult with an expert to make sure you’re making the most efficient and effective choices.
Sunlight floods into this architect-designed energy-efficient home
Once the design has been set, it’s time to think about actually incorporating energy-efficient features into your home. These include:
- Insulation: This is one of the most critical components for making an energy-efficient house. It plays a crucial role in keeping hot or cool air from getting out during the summer and winter seasons and saving on heating and cooling bills.
- Windows: Double glazing windows or triple glazing windows are highly recommended for homes in Australia, as they help with insulation. This is because the panes of glass act like walls to trap air between them, preventing heat from seeping through and keeping warm air inside during winter months.
- Doors: Another important aspect of home insulation is doors — specifically your front door. Ensure it’s well insulated and draft-proof to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
- Appliances: Appliances account for a large percentage of your home’s energy use, so make sure you buy Energy Star appliances when replacing or upgrading them.
- Air sealing: Air sealing is critical for energy efficiency. This involves using weather stripping around doors and installing caulking to seal any cracks or openings that may be letting air escape from your home.
Adding any or all of these features can help make your home more energy-efficient and save you money on your energy bills.
Another critical aspect to consider when building or renovating your home is the power source — there are many different types of renewable energy systems that can be used such as:
- Solar Panels: Installing solar panel systems is one of the most popular options as it doesn’t require any changes to your home, and it’s easy to install. To discover how much you may save on your energy bills, use a solar power calculator to figure it out. Then, explore the best solar power quotes in your area.
- Solar Thermal Systems: Solar thermal systems collect energy from the sun and convert it into heat. This heat is then used to power a water heater or pool heating system.
- LED Lights: LED lights are becoming more and more popular as they use significantly less energy than traditional light bulbs and last much longer.
Utilising any of these power sources can help reduce your home’s reliance on traditional energy sources like coal and gas and help make your home more environmentally friendly.
Site and landscaping
Your house’s position and landscaping can also help with energy efficiency. These factors might include:
- Shading: Position your home so that trees, tall greenery, or other buildings can shade your home and help keep it cool in the summer months.
- Ground Cover: Adding ground cover, like plants and mulch, can help retain moisture and regulate the temperature of the soil — both of which are important for energy efficiency.
- Windbreaks: Placing fences or hedges around your home can help protect it from the wind, which can cause energy losses.
- Solar Orientation: Your house should be oriented to the north if you want solar energy, as this is where it’s most effective at generating electricity.
- Landscaping with native plants or trees: This is another excellent way to use less water when maintaining your garden and help cool your home in the summer.
A well-designed and well-located home can be a significant factor in reducing your energy use and helping you save money on your bills.
One final way to make your home more energy-efficient is to install a smart meter. These digital devices measure your electricity use in real-time, sending the information directly to you. This means you can see how much energy each appliance uses and make changes to reduce your overall usage.
Smart meters can show you the amount of energy your solar panels create and send back to the grid. Overall, it’s a great way to track your alternative energy functionality.
Regardless of the energy source, it can also assist you in saving energy by allowing you to recognise when demand is high or low, allowing you to adjust your usage.
Is it worth investing in an energy-efficient home?
As mentioned above, building or renovating your home to be more energy-efficient can take a considerable amount of time and money. However, the benefits are undoubtedly worth it in the long run as you’ll reduce your monthly bills and help protect the environment at the same time.
Fully-electric houses powered by solar save homeowners between $9,000 and $18,000 in electricity over ten years compared with homes with gas and electric utilities. With one in four residences now equipped with solar panels, Australian states and territories are breaking world records.
Moreover, to help push for a greener planet, Australia offers solar panel rebates and solar feed-in tariffs to help make the switch to solar more affordable. These include:
Likewise, on a grander scale, Australia also has a variety of carbon offsets and green initiative programs which allow you to invest in renewable energy projects.
Overall, if you’re considering renovating or building your dream home, be sure to factor in energy efficiency and see how you can save with renewable energy sources.