• Gravity fed Hot Water?

    If your Hot Water service is a gravity fed unit in your roof space, your can reduce the thermal losses by placing a sheet of insulation material (eg. a pink bat) on top of the unit!

  • The Cost of Cool

    The Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria has produced a chart showing the relative costs of the various cooling systems available for the home.

    The following chart shows both running cost per hour, and greenhouse gas emission caused by the operation of common cooling systems.

    Click here to read more.

  • Give wasted power the Brush-off

    When your fridge pulls the heat out of your food and drinks, it has to put it somewhere. It goes out through the radiator on the back of the fridge, or at least it tries to... Most fridges radiators are covered with insulating dust and fluff! Gently use your vacuum cleaner's brush on the rear of your fridge once a year. Your fridge will reward you with better efficiency if you do!

  • Most efficient heater?

    With every salesman shouting the merits of radiant, or convection, or ceramic, or what ever other kind of heater they have to sell, it can be a nightmare trying to figure out which is the best to use, and the cheapest to run. However, if it has a power plug - working out the comparative running costs is easy...

    Click here to read more.

  • A bright idea...

    Figures from the South Australian Department for Transport Energy and Infrastructure show that if a 100w standard light bulb is replaced with a 20w Compact Flurescent bulb, over its seven year life it will save the householder more than $150 in total costs. Now with the advent of LED lightbulbs - the savings can be even greater!

  • Are you keeping your cool?

    Without seals in good condition, your fridge will be chewing through a lot more power than it needs to, cooling down all the warm air that leaks in. Close your fridge door on a $5 or $10 dollar note, and see how much effort it takes to pull it out with the door closed. If it slips out very easily, or worse yet, falls out by itself, then your door seals need attention. You should easily recoup the cost of repairs from your energy savings!

  • Hot Water Cost Savings

    If you reduce the thermostat setting on your storage hot water service from 70 deg C to 60 deg C, you can reduce the standing losses in the system by up to 33%.

  • Drinks anyone?

    Do you have a second fridge, in the shed maybe? If you can do without it most of the time, run it when you need it and turn it off the rest of the time and save around $120 a year in running costs. What you save in power, could pay for the drinks at your next party!

  • Efficient use of Air Conditioners...

    Every extra degree on your reverse cycle air conditioner control, adds 10% to your running costs.
    In summer, 27 degrees is best but don't go below 25, and in winter, aim for 18 degrees but don't go above 21.

  • The big chill...

    Your Fridge is one of the biggest energy consumers in the average household. If it's not running in peak condition, it can be costing you a lot more than you think. When you clean the kitchen, open the fridge and clean the seals around the door with a damp sponge. This will help deter the mildew that can cause premature failure of the door seals. Without good seals, warm air leaks into the fridge boosting your running cost!

  • Pushy Retailer?

    Is your Energy Retailer pushing you around? There is something you can do about it! Make a complaint with the SA Energy Industry Ombudsman. You can find their website at www.eiosa.com.au

The single biggest improvement you can make to the energy efficiency of your home is to insulate it.

It doesn't matter how efficient your heating or cooling system is, if your home isn't insulated most of your warmth or cool will be vanishing before you even notice it. Trying to heat or cool an uninsulated house is like drinking directly from a tap - you can quench your thirst, but a lot of water goes right down the drain!

Insulating the ceiling in your home should be No. 1 priority. The cooler your climate, the higher the "R" rating your insulation should have ("R" is the measure of Thermal Resistance, or how much resistance there is to heat passing through). In the Adelaide Plains the minimum recomended ceiling insulation should be rated R2.5, while in the Adelaide Hills the minimum recomendation is R3.2. This is one instance however, where more is better, so use the highest "R" rating you can afford, that is practical in your situation.

External walls should also be insulated. While heat will rise to the ceiling first, if the ceiling is insulated it will eventually start pouring out through the walls unless they too are insulated. The "R" rating of wall insulation required will vary with the material your walls are made of. Thin fibrous cement, or iron wall sheeting will require much more insulation than will brick veneer for example. And it may be that a thick stone wall has sufficient thermal resistance all on its own to not require further insulating material at all. As something of a guide, I have found that the R1.5 insulation I put in the external walls of my own brick veneer home has been excellent. With R1.5 in the walls and R3.2 in the ceiling we have reduced the heating and cooling required in our home so much that we may only switch our air-conditioner on a few times in a summer. Usually, a ceiling fan is all that is required.

 Having insulated the ceiling and the walls, you still need to pay attention to the doors and windows. Check for leaks around both. It is good to throw them open to change the air when the house is getting stuffy, but if you're trying to keep out the heat or cold, then a poorly sealing door or window can really work against you quite effectively. Your local hardware store will have a wide range of seals you can simply stick or screw onto the door or window frames to stop the draft in its tracks. Or if the leak under your door is a really big one, the good old fashioned "door snake" just might become your new best friend.

Most people realise that good heavy curtains or blinds will help insulate a window, but not so many realise that the pelmet over the top of the curtains is also critical. While the pelmet may be included just to look good, it also blocks the air from flowing up or down (depending on the season) between the curtains and the window. In summer, without a pelmet, the combination of curtain and window with a small gap between can set up a "chimney effect" that will draw your cooled air from the room, under the curtain and into the gap. Once there, it gets warmed by the radiated heat from the window, and since "hot air rises", it then flows over the top of the curtain and into the room, sucking more cool air back under the curtain to take its place and keep the cycle going. In the winter, the same thing can happen, just in the opposite direction. A pelmet stops this happening, helping to keep your cool (or warm as the case may be!).

Finally, you can greatly improve the thermal efficiency of your home by placement of shade sources outside the home. Every house is different, and there are Engineers and Architects who specialise in sorting such things out for individual properties, but there are some basic rules of thumb that will usually help keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Most importantly for summer cooling, is significant shade on the western walls of your home. A long hot South Australian summer's afternoon can cause significant baking to whatever points west, so shade it as much as you can. If you are going to build a carport for example, then the west side of the house should be first choice if possible.

Secondly, the northern and eastern walls also need some shade, but not as much as the western wall. The eastern wall will get the morning sun, but will have had some opportunity to cool somewhat over night, and so won't heat up as much as the western wall will in the afternoon. The northern wall will have some sun most of the day, but since the sun is high in the sky in a South Australian summer, relatively small eaves will be enough to provide shade to the north wall. In winter time, the sun rides lower in the sky, and so can shine under the short northern eaves to warm the house as much as possible.

 Deciduous trees or vines can also be a good means of providing shade to the outside walls. They are covered in leaves during summer to provide shade, but drop the leaves in winter to let the sun through. A word of caution however, those leaves they drop can be a fire hazard, especially if they drop in your gutters. There are also specially designed pergola roofing systems that either can be adjusted for the season, or in some cases are fixed with just the right angles to shade the summer sun while letting the winter sun through.

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