How to Increase Sustainability in an Already Built Home
Are you interested in having a sustainable home but are not yet ready to build? We know that while the desire to live sustainably is often immediate, it is easy to feel ineffectual during the long process from considering building your own home to actually taking the plunge. We have collated a range of initiatives that you can put in place in your current home to start living more sustainably now. We have included a range of options from the simple and cheap, to the more expensive and more involved, depending on what you are willing to adopt. You may be pleasantly surprised to know there are many government incentives for implementing sustainable initiatives in your home.
- Add solar panels. This one is probably the first option that comes to mind, and rightly so as it can make a big impact on your energy usage. You can receive financial assistance to help in installing a solar PV system under the government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. You can also receive payments for excess electricity being fed back in to the grid (the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme).
- Add a water tank. These can be your typical freestanding tank, or if you have limited space you can get an underground water tank installed. Underground tanks only require shallow excavation and can be placed under lawns, paving or driveways.
- Increase the number of plants surrounding your house. The heat absorption resulting from direct sunlight onto the walls of your home and onto surrounding paving and driveways results in homes that are hotter for longer in summer. Having trees, hedges, leafy plants surrounding your house, and having potted plants on paved areas can reduce the amount of heat that your house gains in summer. This reduces the amount of energy needed to keep your house cool on those hot summer days.
- Install good quality curtains or blinds. Well-installed curtains and blinds can help to reduce heat loss through windows in winter, and reduce heat gain in summer. Consider adding these to the glazing most exposed to sunlight and in areas where you may not typically have considered them necessary such as the living room. Blocking sunlight for the first few hours of a summer morning before you wake up can make a significant impact on your house’s internal temperature.
- Replace your lights with LEDs. LEDs use significantly less energy (statistics range upwards of 75% less energy usage) than traditional incandescent light bulbs and last longer. Make sure you choose LEDs that are Energy Star rated for the most energy efficient bulbs. Consider also installing LED dimmers in areas that need lower light levels to reduce energy usage.
- Replace old water fixtures. If you have old shower and tap fittings consider upgrading to water-efficient fixtures. These will not only save water, but also electricity as there will be less water to be heated. Low flow faucets incorporate air into the water stream to reduce water volume.
- If you have appliances that need updating, check the energy rating or water usage of any products before you buy anything new. Buying the right washing machine, dishwasher or toilet can significantly cut your water usage. Whereas choosing the right fridge, oven, aircon, dryer or tv can have a huge impact on your energy costs.
- Be waterwise in your garden. The Water Corp is currently offering a weather smart irrigation rebate of up to $200 for products that use local weather data to adjust watering times for your garden to reduce water wastage. Be quick though – the offer is limited to 600 rebates and only available from 1st September 2019 to 31st May 2020.
The list could go on and on, but the ideas mentioned above are a good place to start if you haven’t already. It is the accumulation of small changes over time that make an impact. Let us know if you have any great ideas that we haven’t thought of already!
If you found this interesting, the government’s Department of Environment and Energy have some great information on their website: https://www.energy.gov.au/