The home

This page describes how you can save power, lower emissions and make your home more comfortable through changes to fixtures or the building itself, or by changing things you do in your home on a daily basis.

Changing everyday habits

 

You can achieve significant energy and carbon reductions by changing small aspects of how you live in your home, including the following:

  • Maximise your home’s insulating capacities by keeping doors and window closed and using curtains, blinds and shutters to keep the warmth or cooling in.
  • The exceptions to this are if inside and outside temperatures are similar or if you want to capture a cooling breeze.
  • Only heat, cool, light or use fans in parts of the home you are occupying at that moment, and close internal doors to retain warmth or cooling in those areas.
  • Use only as much water as you really need, and don’t use hot water when cold will do just as well.

 

Changes to the building or fixtures

Costs  and benefits

Major work on your home or the purchase of new appliances may be expensive, but if significant energy savings result you will eventually end up ‘in the black’. However the initial outlay may be difficult. It can help to stagger these outlays, bearing in mind when appliances need to be replaced or when maintenance is required. Appliances and building materials have ‘embodied energy’, the energy required to manufacture and transport them, and so for this reason they shouldn’t be replaced too soon. It can be a good idea to adopt a plan to have a highly energy efficient home in, say, five years’ time, with the purchases and work on your home spaced out across this period.

Home energy audits

If you are thinking of doing anything more than minor changes to your home, you should consider first getting a home energy audit or assessment. A qualified professional can assess your home and advise you on the changes that would make the most difference for the money you have to spend. This may save you a lot of expense and achieve a much better outcome.

More on energy audits

Heating and cooling

Insulation & draft-proofing

A large proportion of home energy is used to heat and cool the home. The better insulated it is the less you need to use energy to achieve a comfortable internal temperature. Your home will be better insulated if:

  • it is well sealed, so that air isn’t passing in and out (unless you want it to be)
  • roof spaces, walls and floors have adequate insulation
  • windows are shaded on the outside and covered on the inside when necessary, and there is double glazing or an insulating film applied to the glass
  • it reflects more heat away from the building through the use of certain external colours and surfaces
  • the house is shaded in warm weather by vegetation.

Walls vs. Windows

An interesting point to note is that there’s more to be gained from by insulating walls than from double-glazing windows, and the best way to prevent heat transfer through windows is to have less area of windows, as the following short video explains. Insulation can be pumped into existing cavity walls.


Lighting

For information about energy efficient lighting, see the following:

Hot water

For information about hot water systems and water saving technology see:

Smart Technology

Smart technology devices can save you power, measure power usage, measure surface temperatures and illumination, and even generate power.

For example, check out this CHOICE Power Meter Buying Guide for information on devices that can tell you how much power your household appliances are actually using.