Go Green - Make Money

Eco-friendly features can generate big savings on utility bills. But when it comes to greening your home it can be hard knowing where to put money down.

No matter if you’re planning a few minor home improvements or a large scale renovation, it certainty pays to think ‘green’.

A 2014 study by government body Sustainability Victoria found renovators who incorporate energy efficiency improvements can save hundreds of dollars on their energy bills every year – with basic measures like draught proofing and efficient lighting providing potential savings of almost $300 annually.

Even better, it’s possible to enjoy generous savings – and add to your home’s comfort and value, without spending a fortune. We check out five simple and low cost improvements to green your home.

1. Ceiling insulation

Maintaining our homes at a comfortable temperature accounts for a significant chunk of household energy bills. Adding effective insulation to your roof cavity can potentially save up to 20% on heating and cooling energy costs.

If your home is already insulated, check the thickness of the insulation. Older insulation materials can compact down over time, and for best results insulation should be 50mm thick. Think about topping up ceiling insulation if it’s below this level.

2. Draught proofing

Cut winter heating bills by up to 25% simply by sealing gaps and cracks around doors, windows and skirting boards. Draught-proof door seals can be picked up at next-to-no-cost from your local hardware store and installed in a day. Make sure your home still has sufficient cross-ventilation from open windows to allow plenty of fresh air on warm days.

3. Natural shade

Give your home the benefit of natural shade, and lend a helping hand to the ozone layer, by planting trees that will offer summer shade for key living areas. Choose deciduous, drought tolerant native varieties that will also allow the sun to warm your home in winter. Ask your local council about the availability of free trees, some councils offer ratepayers a limited quantity of tubestock at no cost.

4. Energy efficient hot water

If your hot water heater has seen better days, think about replacing it with an instantaneous gas heater or a solar-boosted instantaneous system. The beauty of these appliances is that you only pay for the hot water you actually use rather than consuming the energy needed to heat an entire tank. The potential saving on power bills can stack up to more than $500 annually.

5. Add a rainwater tank

Harvesting rainwater from your roof is an easy way to keep your garden lush even during periods of water restrictions, and you’ll also save on water bills. Major hardware chains usually have rainwater tanks available that can be installed by a reasonably competent home handyman.  Polymer tanks come in a range of colours, with 1,000 litre tanks priced from around $400 – allow a bit extra for gutter connection fittings.

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