This is a guest post by James Pointon for Open Agent.
Heating and cooling can take up a large chunk of your energy bill, so finding ways to minimise these costs can save you a lot of money. As an added benefit, if you ever decide to sell your property, some of these methods can actually help to increase its value. With the summer weather in full swing here in Australia, here are 8 must know tips and tricks for cutting down on energy costs.
1. Block out heat and light
While the sun is shining in summer, blocking out its rays will help keep your home cool. By keeping the heat out, your air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain your ideal temperature. Depending on your budget, this might include anything from simple blackout curtains to more expensive motorised blinds. Light-coloured backings for blinds and curtains are able to deflect some extra sun, especially with sun-facing windows, since they absorb less heat.
2. Install a roof ventilation system
Approximately 25-35% of the heat build up in your home can come from your roof. By reducing the amount of heat radiating from the roof space, your air conditioner won’t use as much energy.
There are many different types of roof ventilation systems available, anything from basic wind operated models to complex solar powered models depending on your budget. Installing vents in the eaves of your attic is a cost effective way to allow cooler air to enter. You might also consider installing a ridge vent or an attic fan.
3. Get a humidifier
A humidifier can help you save on energy costs since moist air helps you feel warmer and can also hold in heat better. Hence, you won’t have to crank up the thermostat too high.
Humidifiers are a relatively cheap investment that can make the winter months a lot more comfortable. Indoor house plants might also be able to increase the humidity in your home. However, without a green thumb, investing in plants may lead to a bunch of dead plants that you end up needing to get rid of.
4. Rug up
This may seem like a simple tip but rugging up might allow you to turn down, or completely turn off, your heater more often. Dress in layers, wear gloves or put on a pair of slippers… Whatever it takes to keep you warm.
Cooling and heating
5. Use timed or smart thermostats
Using a thermostat with a built-in timer allows you to set both the temperature and the hours of operation. Smart thermostats allow you to automatically adjust your heating or cooling temperature based on your daily schedule.
In Australia, it’s especially important to do your research on smart thermostats to make sure the system you buy is suitable with your existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Smart thermostats are one of those investments that will future proof your property, making it more valuable on the market.
6. Install energy efficient windows
If your windows are due for a replacement anyway, switching to energy efficient windows can be a great investment. In residential properties, heat loss and gain through traditional windows can be responsible for about 25-30% of heating and cooling energy use. Thus, energy efficient windows can reduce your energy bills significantly.
These windows work by reflecting heat in warmer climates. In colder climates, energy efficient windows help to keep the heat inside the house. Similarly to a smart thermostat system, energy efficient windows can potentially pay for themselves since they can increase the value of your property.
7. Seal up air leaks
Your house might have air leaks that are causing your HVAC system to work harder than it has to. It’s a good idea to check for air leaks in places where utilities come into your home (plumbing, electricity etc.), around chimneys, and around windows and doors. By caulking or sealing these gaps, you’ll make sure air from your cooling or heating system isn’t escaping.
8. Maintain your HVAC system
Maintaining your (HVAC) system is a chore most people overlook. However, getting into the habit of cleaning or changing air filters on all your different units every month or so can actually save you money. Dirt, debris and leaves can lead to your system working harder than necessary, increasing your energy costs.
Maintaining your HVAC system might also involve replacing any old units with newer, more energy efficient models. In some states in Australia, you can actually receive an energy rebate for switching to a more efficient air conditioning system.
In Australia, heating and cooling is predicted to take up about 40% of energy use. Therefore, despite the extra effort or initial upfront costs, these money-saving methods will definitely be worthwhile in the long run. Plus, not only are you cutting down on costs, you’re being more environmentally-friendly and also increasing the value of your property.
About the author: James Pointon is a Commercial Manager at OpenAgent.com.au, an online agent comparison website helping Australians to sell, buy and own property.