Renovating a home is the perfect time to apply some simple energy efficient strategies to make your home more comfortable and less costly to run.
If you're building new external walls, or opening up old ones, it's a great opportunity to look into the insulation within your building. Installing the right insulation can make a big difference when it comes to your comfort and energy costs, so investigating the R-value of your insulating materials is a must.
The R-value represents the material's ability to resist the transfer of heat. The higher the number, the better the insulation and the better able your home will be to retain temperature.
When looking at your walls, try to insulate them to at least R2 levels and if you can, it's very cost effective to do this during other building work. And if you happen to come across any hot water pipes while opening up walls, take the opportunity to insulate them as well, to help improve the efficiency of your hot water system. Recommendations on the R-value of the insulation you should use varies depending on your climate, so check out the Government recommendations here.
While on the subject of walls, it's worth considering the orientation of your home. Large areas of glass to the North and West will give you the opportunity to catch winter sun and keep your rooms warm without having to run the heating during winter. However in summer, the last thing you'll want is the sun coming in - so make sure you can shade the glass in the warmer months. Look into retractable blinds and awnings, deciduous trees or specially designed window ‘eaves' that work appropriately in both seasons.
You'll be surprised at the difference it will make letting the sun in during winter, and keeping walls and windows shaded in summer. Small considerations like this can help to reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 40%.
Insulation in the roof has a big impact on your comfort and heating/cooling costs. If it's not already insulated, look into installing roof insulation to at least R3.5 levels. Ensure you include closable exhaust fans in the bathrooms or use draught stoppers in the ceiling. Also consider increasing the natural light into your rooms where you can with carefully placed windows and skylights.
One of the biggest considerations when renovating and with future energy savings in mind is lighting. Light fittings that minimise ‘holes' in the ceiling are best, for example a pendant light or concealed lighting. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are highly energy efficient but can take a while to ‘warm up'; check the packet before you buy to ensure you get the right colour and whether the bulb is dimmable or not.
If you're keen on downlights, consider going for energy efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) rather than the standard halogens. You can run up to 5 LEDs for the price of 1 x 50w halogen, and they last around 10 times longer. Whilst initially a little more expensive, the cost can generally be justified within just a year. Downlight covers (mitts) are also available, which allow you to insulate the ceiling space properly and obtain the maximum benefits from your insulation.
If you're looking to renovate or build and want to investigate all the options you have to improve your home's efficiency during the build process, and what can be done later, download the free checklist from the Green Moves Resources section.
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