As brilliant as it may be, unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to build a fully functioning, energy-efficient, sustainable home. However, there are some modifications and updates for every budget that can be made to your house in order to make a conscious contribution to helping achieve a more sustainable home.
1. North Facing
If you are lucky enough to be building a brand new home, one of the considerations should be great passive solar design. This allows your home to react to its local climate through natural cooling in summer and heating in winter. Also, consider zoning of rooms, appropriate insulation, shading (in terms of deciduous trees and sufficient eaves), building materials and optimising cross-ventilation of breezes.
2. Solar Power
Solar power is a renewable energy source and as such, is generally speaking a non-polluting and clean energy. Solar power produces energy to run your household appliances such as lighting, air conditioning, hot water systems etc. This is a sustainable energy source and is not only efficient, but can also be cost effective. Recently, we spoke to Ben Towers of Solaire Connect to get some great advice on what to look for when evaluating a solar system. Read the article here, Should I Install Solar Power For My House?
3. Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo is often referred to as a timber but actually is an extremely fast-growing grass. Bamboo is a fantastic flooring solution for high traffic areas in homes as it's incredibly durable, water-resistant and is a natural anti-bacterial. Bamboo flooring is a great mid-range flooring product. It’s generally more expensive than laminate but, less expensive than hardwood timber floors. The technology of bamboo flooring makes it accessible as a DIY installation as it’s commonly a tongue and groove system. One consideration when selecting bamboo flooring for sustainable purposes is that it’s applied with a natural-base adhesive.
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4. Washing Line
By simply washing your clothes in cold water, rather than hot, and hanging them out to dry on a clothesline or rack, you can not only save up to $100* a year but, it’s more friendly for the environment as well!
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5. Rainwater Tanks
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6. Double Glazed Windows
By installing double glazed windows throughout your home – you can help keep the warmth in during winter whilst also keeping the heat out during summer. “Double glazed windows are very energy efficient, as they can reduce heat loss or heat gain by almost 30% in comparison to single-glazed aluminium windows.”** If double glazed windows is unachievable for your budget, keep in mind the U-Value of the windows you ultimately select. A window system consists of both the framing and the glazing and it’s these components that contribute to the overall performance of the window system and what is referred to as the U-Value. In short, a U-Value measures the amount of heat that is passed through the glazed unit in watts. So, the higher the U-Value, the less energy efficient your window system will be. As such, it’s best to consider a window system for your home that has a low U-Value as this will help equate to a home that is more sustainable.
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“One third of Victoria’s energy is used in the home with about 9 per cent of household greenhouse gas emissions attributable to lighting. Electricity for lighting costs households about $100 every year and generates around 20,000 black balloons of greenhouse gas.”^
A simple solution to help ease this problem is to consider the types of globes you have at home. By installing compact fluorescent globes or LEDs where possible, and replacing the conventional incandescent globes, you will instantly help contribute to less greenhouse gases emitted from your home. “If every Victorian household replaced just one conventional globe with an energy efficient compact fluorescent globe, the savings would be more than 6 billion balloons of greenhouse gas a year.”*
By incorporating one or more of these handy hints, you will be helping to create a more sustainable home.
*Sustainability Victoria - Top 10 energy saving tips
**Sustainability Victoria - How to select energy efficient glazing
^Momentum Energy – Fast Facts on Energy Efficient Lighting