An energy efficient fit out of your home may increase building costs, but the additional investment will deliver immediate savings on your electricity bill, saving you money in the long run, and reduce your carbon footprint. Consider the following energy savers in your cool home.
Lighting and Appliances
Energy efficient lighting now comes in a wide variety of globe styles and colours and is very cost effective. Installing energy efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) can save you a lot compared to older
lights such as halogen downlights.
Select energy efficient appliances. A good place to start comparing the energy efficiency of appliances is the national Equipment Energy Efficiency website www.energyrating.gov.au.
Natural Ways To Save Energy
- Maximise natural daylighting by incorporating open plan design, increasing the number of windows, adding tube style skylights internally and specifying light coloured internal and external surfaces.
- Avoid significant costs from operating a clothes dryer all year by installing a well-positioned outdoor clothesline which catches sun and breezes or an undercover line to dry clothes during the wet season.
- Design your fridge space to allow for airflow around the fridge to make it more efficient. Fridges can use over 20% of the energy in your home.
Energy Efficient Pool Pump
Swimming pools can be one of the largest users of power in the home. When designing and building your pool consider the following:
Air-conditioning typically accounts for around 40% of household electricity use in Queensland. A single air-conditioning unit can cost over $360 per quarter to run. Incorporating tropical design features into your home will reduce your reliance on air-conditioning
and help you stay cool throughout the hot humid summer. You may not even need to install air-conditioning at all, avoiding significant purchasing and running costs.
- Design for good cross ventilation and install fans in every room to reduce the need for air-conditioning. By installing 1400mm fans (instead of 900mm or 1200mm) you can achieve better air movement.
- If you decide to install air-conditioning, invest in a model with the highest star rating you can afford to save money on running costs. Solar-boosted air-conditioners are also available.
Hot Water Systems
Water heating is one of the largest energy users in the home. Choosing the right hot water system when building your home can provide you with big cost savings year after year.
- Solar hot water systems are a great option for our sunny tropical climate, providing free hot water using the sun’s energy. These are typically more expensive to purchase but with little to no running costs they will soon prove to be the cheapest option.
- Electric heat pump hot water systems operate like an air-conditioner in reverse. They draw heat from the air to heat water and use much less electricity than traditional electric element hot water systems. Heat pumps are easy to install and provide a good option for homes in shady locations where solar is not feasible. They make a noise similar to an air-conditioning unit so should be located away from windows. For maximum cost effectiveness, connect your heat pump to the night time off-peak tariff.
- Instantaneous gas hot water systems are cheaper to install than solar or heat pump systems and are very efficient. However, depending on your hot water requirements, they can often be more costly to run in Far North Queensland as they require the ongoing purchase of bottled gas.
Home-scale silent wind turbines are now available. These can provide a great alternative to solar panels if you have consistent wind.
Installing solar power will help to reduce your electricity bills particularly if you use electricity during the day. Domestic solar power systems are typically connected to the electricity grid so you draw upon extra power when required and send any surplus solar power back to the grid.
- Panels should ideally be located facing north in full sun. Other orientations can still deliver good power generation.
- A two kilowatt solar power system can save you close to $1,000 a year on your electricity bill.
- Battery storage systems are becoming a popular option to maximise the financial benefit of your solar power system. As an added benefit they can also be used during power outages (e.g. cyclones). You may even be able to go off-grid.
These are just some of the energy saver ideas you can bring to your new cool home design and construction. Proper planning and investment can save you and the environment in the medium to long term.
Read part 3: Natural And Cost Effective Ways to Keep Your New Home Build Cooler