Practice Energy Efficiency
Energy Freedom lowers demand for fossil fuels. There is a lot everyone can do! Click below to find out more:
Practicing energy efficiency via good design, retro fitting and efficient behaviours can quickly and significantly lower demand – you might be surprised how much you can save in both money and emissions! Even if you have a big solar PV or source other renewable energy, energy efficiency is still important in the big picture of lowering emissions – you can contribute more clean energy to the grid (and get paid for it).
When building or renovating you have a great opportunity to dramatically lower the energy usage over the life of the building. This involves appropriate orientation, letting in winter sun, shading from summer sun, gap sealing, high rating insulation or designing in heat vents for summer. This dramatically improves comfort and adds value to your building. Step away from gas stoves and fossil fuels to go all electric – induction stoves are very quick and responsive.
Check out the Energy Freedom Book.
Sanctuary and Renew magazines renew.org.au
Zero Emissions Byron: Dare to Dream Sustainably poster (ZEB_SustainableHouseFlyer_pdf, 1Mb)
Understand how much electricity you use – read your bills and your meter. Track this over time and talk about it as a family. This is very motivating! But feedback in real time is the most effective incentive by using apps that come with some solar arrays or smart meters. See Understanding your Usage.
Greenpeace also has a useful guide to understanding where your power comes from. You can view the Green Electricity Guide here.
Solar panels produce electricity during daylight hours, making them well-suited for homes using energy during the day. The benefits of solar include cutting energy bills, reducing carbon emissions, increasing self-sufficiency, and improving the resale value of homes.
Even better, solar power is now the cheapest form of energy there is. Add to that the potential savings and it's a no brainer for most homeowners. That's why Australia has the highest penetration of solar panels on rooftops in the world.
You can also calculate your potential savings on this Solar Calculator.
Eligible homeowner-occupiers may be eligible for a free installed 3kW solar system - find out if you are eligible here.
Energy storage batteries are still one of the more expensive additions to a home, but an investment worth making if you want to be grid independent.
The NSW government offers a number of fact sheets to get your started on learning about battery systems.
Download the complete NSW Home Solar Battery Guide (PDF 7.8MB) here.
Even if you are a renter there are effective actions you can take. For instance, can still install LED lighting in most fixtures and take them with you if you go.
See free booklet
First step can be to lessen the number of bulbs you - many fittings and rooms have unnecessary bulbs. Replace shockingly wasteful halogen lighting and less efficient compact fluoros with highly efficient LED lighting – there are a range of cool to warm lighting tones. Get rid of old incandescent bulbs now! This pays off quicker than you would think, prices are dropping rapidly. Improve natural light so you don’t need lamps or lights during daytime. Skylights, solar skylights, Skytubes or new windows can save energy use over time. See rebate offer for NSW.
Use motion-sensing night lights rather than leaving lights on all night, same with outdoor lights. Switch off when you leave the room - find a way to motivate the whole household!
Dramatic improvements in cooling and heating can come from insulating or upgrading the quality of roof, wall, window and even floor insulation. There are many products for all situations. Appropriate shading and ventilation will manage heat build-up (go for cross ventilation and high heat venting). Gap sealing will keep the cool and the heat in when you want it. Retro fitting underfloor insulation – especially for older draughty Queenslander style houses, works well.
With good design, we should not need much heating in our subtropical climate. If you need lots, try upgrading the insulation, more floor rugs, sealing gaps, putting up better curtains with pelmets, closing windows and other ways to minimise heat loss. The most efficient heating comes from reverse cycle air con. Try heating yourself rather than the whole room with warmer clothing and heated throws rugs.
We have a great climate for solar hot water – free water heating from the sun! If you have a big solar array a heat pump may be a good option too.
Insulate pipes, get the thermostat turned down to (no lower than) 60 o C, stop water drips, wash clothes in cold water, shorten showers and don’t wash dishes under running hot taps.
For detailed advice see this booklet.
If there is a little red glowing light when not using an appliance you are wasting power. This can be up to 10% of your usage and unnecessary. Switch off at the wall, use power boards to make switches accessible, use freedom switches and other set ups to switch everything off remotely or via wi-fi. Get your household into the habit of no standby power. Put up signs if you have to.
The star rating scheme helps you choose more efficient appliances. The more stars the more efficient. Sometimes you pay more but they pay for themselves in energy savings. Efficiency really matters for equipment that is on all the time like fridges. There are NSW rebates for some people for more efficient TVs and fridges. Get to know the Energy Rating Label here.
You can make big savings with time-efficient use of energy-efficient pumps. The best choices depend it you have solar power or not. The efficiency benefits come from choice of equipment, time of day it is switched on, length of time on etc.), in pool solar operated filters are available. Get good advice before purchasing and check out retrofitting options.
Choose an ethical electricity supplier who sources renewable energy and/or subscribe to accredited GreenPower.
NSW Energy Saver Website - Check out current rebates
Read about Energy Efficiency.
Great Australian magazines on energy efficiency and low carbon house design
Renew Magazine & Renew website renew.org.au offer detailed info on all energy saving topics, product reviews, expert advice for members.
Green home design for the tropics booklet which has application in our subtropical area see: shop.ata.org.au/shop/best-green-homes-of-the-tropics-ebook-3
Videos on energy efficiency & fact sheets
A greenhouse around the corner: https://ala.asn.au/a-greenhouse-around-the-corner/
For renters: Guide to Sustainable Living (Free): https://energysaver.nsw.gov.au/households/fine-tune-your-home/energy-efficiency-renters
A home energy advisor/consultant can be invaluable for identifying your options and priorities, to improve your home's energy efficiency, thermal comfort, and carbon footprint. One of ZEB's board directors, Seb Crangle, is an Energy Consultant - accredited with the Residential Energy Scorecard program and training to be a thermal performance assessor. He is available to support households and small businesses through his advisory services.
Contact Seb via his website: www.homeenergyadvisor.com.au