Energy Efficient Home Ideas
For most people, the place where you have the most opportunity to make choices which will save you energy- and money- is in your home. There are many things to consider, each one taking you a little further in your quest for energy efficiency.
Energy Efficient Power
Solar power is probably the best option for most household wanting to cut their reliance on, and the cost of, mains electricity. Not only can you create all of your own power for your household needs (providing you have an appropriate sized system) but you can also sell your excess power back to the grid, and make some money on the side! There are several things to take into account, and be aware of, when considering solar power. Our article 'Solar Power: Expert Advice on What You Need to Know', which is an interview with Justin Russell from Solar Depot, should help you with this.
Another option is wind power, which is often used in combination with solar power. If you are interested in having a go at making your own wind power generating system, check out our article 'My Foray Into Solar and Wind Power' by Doug Parker-Barnes. Doug gives a basic look into his trial and error and the materials he used. If you want to know any more specific details, Doug's contact details are at the end of the article.
The video below gives a basic look at three kinds of wind generators. Maybe one will inspire you to have a go!
And here's a home made generator powered by water! A cool project for a handy person.
If you can't afford the intitial cost of an alternative power source, but would still like to do your bit in supporting sustainable power production, considering purchasing 'green' power from your electricity supplier. It's a little more expensive, but you will be helping lessen your eco 'footprint'.
Consider installing devices which turn appliances off at the power point, instead of leaving them on stand-by. Standby can use quite a bit of unnecessary power over time. You can get devices which will switch power boards off after an appliance, such as a TV, hasn't had any active use for a set amount of time. Also switches, often foot operated, which bring on/off operation out to where you can easily reach, for power boards or power points which are behind or under things which make them hard to access.
Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling
Fans are the most energy efficient form of cooling, and the moving air they produce can be quite sufficient if the temperature is not extreme. You can choose to install ceiling fans, which move the air around an entire room, or use personal/desk type fans which generally cover a smaller, more directional area.
Evaporative coolers are the next most energy efficient to run. These work alright if the humidity isn't too high. they come in either room or ducted models.
Refrigerated air conditioners (commonly reverse cycle which heat and cool) are less energy efficient, but they do vary greatly.
Single split systems with high efficiency ratings:
- TOSHIBA RAS-10SKVP2-A + RAS-10SAVP2-A (shown right)
- TOSHIBA RAS-10SKVP2-A + RAS-10SAVP2-A
- TOSHIBA RAS-10SKVP2-A/RAS-10SAVP2-A
- MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC MSZ-FB25VA
- DAIKIN FTXS25L / RXS25L
- PANASONIC CS_CU-E9MKR
Under Floor Hydronic Heating and Cooling
The best form of hydronic heating is a system which is integrated with solar, to heat the water, which usually needs very little boost at most times, and can be extremely energy efficient. Other forms of hydronic heating vary in energy efficiency. Some hydronic systems can also cool.
For more in formation visit our article 'Hydronic Under Foor Heating'.
Natural gas heating, either separate units or ducted, can be a fairly energy efficient form of heating, as can slow combustion wodd stoves.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Energy Efficient Fridges and Freezers
These can use a large proportion of the household's energy consumption, but getting the right one, with a high energy rating, can certainly make substantial savings on this. Older fridges and freezers in particular can be very energy hungry, especially if the seals aren't the best, so if your old model is in need of repair, consider replacing it instead. You may be surprised how much lower your next power bill is! A friend of mine replaced his very old fridge and saved around $200 on his next power bill!! You may not notice such a dramatic saving, but it will still probably be worthwhile.
Below are some fridges and freezers with high star ratings:
Single Door Fridges
- ELECTROLUX ERM4307SC
- MIELE K 14827 SD ed
- FISHER & PAYKEL RB90S64MKIW
- LIEBHERR SKBes 4211
- Haier HBF55W
- Haier HBF165W
Two Door Fridge/Freezer
- ELECTROLUX ETM5200SC
- ELECTROLUX ETM5207SC
- ELECTROLUX ETM4200SC
- ELECTROLUX ETM5200SC
- ELECTROLUX ETM5207SC
- MIELE KTN 14840 SD ed
- MIELE KFN 14842 SD ed
- LIEBHERR CBNes 5167
Side by Side Fridge/Freezer
- ELECTROLUX ESE6107SC
- ELECTROLUX ESE6077SC
- ELECTROLUX ESE7007S
- ELECTROLUX ESE7007B
- ELECTROLUX ESE6977S
Models with solid fronted drawers can be energy saving, as they help to hold the cold air in place more than wire baskets or shelves.
- MIELE FN 14827 S
- MIELE FN 12827 S
- MIELE FN 12827 S
- MIELE FN 12827 S
- LIEBHERR SGNes 3010
- LIEBHERR UIG 1313
Chest freezers usually use less energy than upright models, especially if they are opened frequently, as the air stays in the chest and doesn't fall out as it does in the upright ones.
- ELCOLD 31XLE
- HAIE HCF148
- HAIER HCF148A
- HAIER HCF148B
- HAIER HCF148C
Energy Efficient Dishwashers
Consider the water usage of a dishwasher... not just the power use. Dishwashers with a small load setting can be more efficient, especially if there's not usually a lot of dishes, but you want to run it daily. Also, ones that have an option to allow dishes to air dry, rather than as part of the cycle, are power saving.
- BOSCH SMU50E45AU
- BOSCH SMS50E42AU
- BOSCH SMI50E45AU
- SIEMENS SX66T091AU
- SIEMENS SN46E581AU
- SIEMENS SN26M891AU
- SMEG DWAU157*T
- SMEG DWAI152*T
- SMEG DWAFI152T
Energy Efficient Washing Machines
As above, water usage should also be considered. Small load option and cold wash options help save energy too.
- MIELE W 5965
- HOOVER DYN 9166P
- MIELE W 5820
- HOOVER DST 10146P
- MIELE W 5943
- MIELE W1611
- PANASONIC NA-148VX3 WAU
- MIELE W 5903
- PANASONIC NA-148VG3 WAU
- LG WD14070SD6
Energy Efficient Clothes Dryers
One clothes dryer absolutely out-shines any other by so far, that it should be your 'appliance' of choice, unless you really need to use another. Can you guess what it is? The good old clothesline! It only uses your energy (good excuse to go out in the fresh air and sunshine!) and is free to 'operate'! And it leaves clothes smelling sunshiney fresh and aired. Can't beat it!
If you really need a powered dryer, the list below contains some of the ones with the highest star rating:
- BEKO DPU 7360 GX
- BOSCH WTY88700 AU
- LG TD-C901H
- MIELE T 8627 WP
- MIELE T 8827 WP
- MIELE T 8000 WP
- MIELE T 7950 WP
- MIELE T 8927 WP
- MIELE T 8947 WP
- SIEMENS WT48Y780 AU
For some energy saving tips for your fridge and freezer see our article 'Ways To Save Energy- And Money- On Refrigeration and Freezing'.
If you would like more information about energy rating, and to compare products for energy efficiency, visit http://www.energyrating.gov.au/
Energy Efficient Cooking
Gas stoves are generally cheaper to run than electric stoves.
Halogen elements and induction elements are less energy hungry than traditional electric elements.
Fan forced ovens are about 30% more efficient that ones without, which means that you can cook at a lower temperature, which in turn saves money.
A toaster oven can be a more energy efficient option than using a full size stove, if you are only cooking a small amount of food.
Microwaves and convection microwaves can be a more energy efficient way to cook food.
Don't forget the slow cooker / crockpot and the electric frypan- they are both fairly low energy forms of cooking.
It is generally cheaper to boil water in your kettle fist and then add to your saucepan, rather than bringing to the boil on the stove. Also, don't just run the hot tap until you have hot water, for cooking purposes, as this not only wastes water but energy needed to heat the replacement water.
Energy Efficient Water Heaters
Solar hot water is a very energy efficient way to heat your household water. You can choose from Flat plate panels or evacuated tube collectors, with either gas or electric boost.
This video gives an explanation on how solar water heating works and some useful information too.
Another option, though not as energy efficient as solar, are heat pumps, which operate by absorbing heat from air and transferring it to heat water. Although they do run on electricity they are more efficient than conventional electric water heaters when used in the right environment.
Energy Efficient TV's
Televisions can be quite hungry in their use of power, so it pays to check into the star rating of the ones you are considering. Listed below are a few of the highest rated ones:
- LASER DVBT-C30
- SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS
- PHILIPS 55HFL5573D/10
- PHILIPS 40PFL5605H/12
- PHILIPS 52PFL5605H/12
- SHARP LC-52LE835X
- PANASONIC TH-L24X5Z
- PANASONIC TH-L32X50Z
- HISENSE HL55T36PZL
Energy Efficient Lighting
Appropriately positioned windows, skylights and solar light tubes can bring natural lighting into your home and dramatically reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day time.
Here's an excellent video (from the Dummies series) on installing a solar light tube.
Replace your old incandescent globes with energy efficient bulbs (compact fluorescent) and fluorescent tubes.
Downlights are inefficient for lighting a large area, as it may require half a dozen downlights to light the same area one main globe will illuminate. LED downlights are energy efficient for where you want to illuminate a spot or make a decorating accent.
It may work out more energy efficient to light specific areas with lower wattage lamps, that illuminate the whole room all of the time, if not required.
Make sure your light shades don't hinder too much light from getting into the room- fulkly enclosed shaes or dark colours can dramatically lessen available light.
Energy Efficient Blinds, Curtains and Windows
Energy use can be cut by having appropriate windows and their 'dressings'.
Blinds can keep out heat, or cold, and can be used to shade walls too, not only windows.
Heavy, thermal curtains keep the exchange of temperature with the outside at a minimum.
Light lacy or net secondary curtains can give privacy, while letting the daylight come in, lessening the need for using indoor lighting.
Double glazing or reflective film can help windows do their bit, as well as makign sure they are properly sealed against air leaks.
Energy Efficient Insulation, Ventilation and Air Sealing
Insulation is one of the best ways of lessening the amount of energy you need to use in heating and cooling your home. Different insulation materials have different ratings, so before taking up just any insulation offer, look into what they are offering. Also, be sure that they are appropriately qualified and experienced, as there have been some tragedies caused by improperly installed insulation. For a more in depth look at insulation check out our article 'Home Insulation: What Type of Insulation is Right for My Home'.
If you are building a house, one material with a very high rating is straw bale! Not for everyone, but worth a thought.
Here's a bit of a look at how it's done!
Ventilation is an important aspect of creating an energy efficient house. It can help release hot air to the outside and also move cooler, or warmer air through the house to stabilise the temperature. Whirlygigs, or wind turbine vents, are good for venting roofs, and carefully considered placement of windows and inside vents can create ideal air flow. Floor vents can also help bring cool air up from under your house.
Sealing off spots that allow leakage of hot or cool air, when undesired, can also help lessen the energy needed to maintain an ideal temperature. This includes under doors, around windows if improperly sealed, cracks, chimneys and between rooms- keep doors to unused areas closed, or hang curtains if no door.
Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting
Solar garden lights are the most energy efficient way to light your garden, but in many cases the light emitted is small, so will do little in the way of providing much illumination. It is great for adding night time ambience to your garden however. There are some solar garden lights that are better than others, so shop around.
Timer or motion sensor lighting is a good option for lighting your porch, garden, path, driveway, carport etc as it allows for good ligting, but addresses the common problem of outside lights being left on accidentally for an extended period, or overnight. Sensor lighting also means that light is immediately available, where you need it, for when you come home at night. No fiddling with keys, gates or garage doors in the dark.
Energy Efficient Garden Irrigation
Powered garden watering systems may not take a huge amount of power to run, but every bit of saving counts!
One of the most promising energy saving irrigations systems I have seen is Measured Irrigation, which is a South Australian invention created by Dr. Bernard Omodei. It boasts both a powered and unpowered version- the powered one operating from its own solar panel, so mains power is not required. This system also can operate from rainwater tank pressure, unlike most other systems, so mains water is also not needed.
Energy Efficient Pool Heating
A pool cover, especially a thermal blanket pool cover, can make a huge difference (50-70%) in the heating costs of your pool, as it stops heat from leaving the pool in cooler times and at night.
The most energy efficient way to heat a pool, especially in sunnier climates, is with a solar pool heater. The pool water is pumped up to solar collectors (usually on the roof) where it is heated and then returned to the pool. In hot climates pool water can also be cooled via this method, by pumping the water up to the collectors at night, when they are cool.
If you're a bit of a do-it-yourselfer, you could always try making your own, like the guy in this video.
A heat pump swimming pool heater is another relatively energy efficient way of heating pool water. It collects heat from the outside air, and transfers it to the water, in the same way a reverse cycle air conditioner does.
For a whole lot of ways to save more energy around your home visit our article '70 Tips For Saving Energy in Your Home'.