Making your home more energy efficient

Making your home more energy efficient

Making your home more energy efficient

Making your home more energy efficient doesn’t mean you have to become a greenie. There are many reasons for doing it. Today I am going to talk about why we did it and what we did.

Why we wanted to change and make our home more energy efficient

There were a couple of reasons to do it. One the cost and the second the environment.

The cost

This is a big motivator. I don’t know about where you are, but here in Melbourne Australia electricity is getting so expensive. It makes me wonder how people on low incomes can afford to pay it. Of course, it was privatised and while they say they have some control over the prices, I do wonder. I’m referring to the government.

When they first privatised it the state government at the time said it would create competition and keep prices down. That was crap, it seems to be that all competition did was to see who could get away with charging the most.

So with the price of power being expensive, it meant that if we could stop using so much then it would be good for our bank account.

The environment

I don’t know what you believe with the environment, man-made or not, we have to do something about it. Yeah, I believe we are the reason for it.

For us, that means trying to reduce how much fossil fuel we use in our lives. In the State of Victoria, nearly all our power comes from coal-fired power plants. Really, ask our Federal government, you can’t have enough coal-fired power plants.

So the less electricity we use from the grid, then that is good for the environment. It means we aren’t contributing as much to greenhouse gases.

Making your home more energy efficient

What we did to help

I’m not going to lie and say it hasn’t cost us a lot of money, it has. However, in the long run, it should also save us a lot too. Hopefully, the savings will be greater than the cost in the first place.

There are a lot of things you can do. We have done some, we may do more, but at this stage, we are happy with what we have done.

In the past our home was not very energy efficient

I found an electricity bill from about 8 years ago a while back and for three months it cost us over $800 for power. That is a huge amount. Admittedly it was during April, so at a time we were still getting a lot of hot weather. We would have been using the air conditioner a lot. The old one we had was expensive to run.

Now we pay less than that for the whole year. I will go into how and what we have done.

Computers

It is hard to believe but turning off your computers really does save money. We used to leave ours on all the time, but we stopped and we noticed a change.

Heating and cooling

Both of these can be very expensive. We had a refrigerated air conditioner for the whole house. In Melbourne Evaporative cooling is very popular, but it was never an option for us because we have a flat roof house.

For heating, we had a gas central heating system. At the time when we installed, it was economical. Gas is not the case anymore and it is a very expensive way to get heating for your house. For three months it used to cost over $200. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add electricity to it as well, than we were pay hundreds of dollars every 3 months.

The air conditioner

The air conditioner was very expensive to run. It also didn’t do a great job and when we had very hot days it wouldn’t cool the house down that much. It was annoying. We paid about $5000 for the unit and we were still melting on hot days.

Then back in, I don’t know when we had the heatwave, we had four straight days over 40 degrees Celsius (104f). The air conditioner stopped working after two days. The fan worked, but we were no longer getting any cool air. Just what you need.

We had decided that we would install a split system in our main room, or lounge room. They were more energy efficient and we could cool or heat just that area rather than the whole house.

We did get the main air conditioner fixed, but then the following summer we had another four days of hot weather and it did the same thing after two. We never got it fixed again.

Split systems

They have bred her in our home. We now have them in each bedroom, and this summer I think we will be putting one in the kitchen. I spend a lot of time in there and it gets hot.

They are the cheapest way to cool and heat your home. I know people say the units on the wall are ugly, but I would much rather have them than pay all my money to an electricity company.

They are great and on really hot days you have to turn them off because you are freezing. I love that.

Making your home more energy efficient
This is the type of system we have, only ours is heating as well.

Lighting our home

When we first came to this house one of the things that we always found frustrating was how many light globes we went through. Every week we would be changing at least one. Every time we went to the supermarket we had to buy more.

When they brought in those long-life ones we thought, great. They didn’t work either. They were meant to last for a very long time, but ours would need to be replaced after about 4 months.

In the end, we decided to get all our lights rewired. We changed them to LED downlights throughout the whole house.

LED lights

They have been great and we did notice a decrease in our power bill after getting them. Unfortunately, the guy who installed them used very cheap LED globes and it wasn’t long before we were replacing them. We didn’t know what globes to buy to replace them and sort of repeated what he had done.

We ended up buying good ones and so far they have nearly all been working for over two years. Win.

 

Making your home more energy efficient
Not exactly what we have, but pretty close.

Solar

This is perhaps one of the biggest and most expensive, changes we have made. I am not going to go into much here because I think it deserves a post on its own.

We have a big system on top of our house and that has cut our electricity bills down so much.

Appliances

This is another way to make changes too. We haven’t done a lot, but we have changed how we use many things.

One of the biggest changes was the clothes dryer. We don’t have a clothesline, and hanging clothes outside is good if you are organised. I never really was. So when a tree fell on ours, we never replaced it.

We used a normal dryer, but they were also energy eaters. When the one we had stopped working we looked into something that would be more energy-efficient. We ended up buying a heat pump dryer. They are so good. It takes a long time to dry clothes, but they use very little energy. It is hard to tell it is even on.

It wasn’t cheap, but over time it will pay for itself with the energy we don’t have to use with it.

Making your home more energy efficient
This is the dryer we bought and we got it from The Good Guys.

A few ways to help make your home energy efficient

There are a few ways that we have made changes. Perhaps in the future I can do another one on different things you can do that we have considered. The solar one will be a big post too.

Are you looking for ways to cut your electricity bill?

Making your home more energy efficient

Making your home more energy efficient

5 Responses

  1. The fact that your bulb don’t last very long would make me have the wiring checked but you say you have had it redone. It must be so different where you are needing air conditioning. It is rarely that hot over here. Solar must be good too for you. We get so much less sun, I imagine, and my roof points the wrong way or I would have considered solar panels. I do switch things off though over night and am really a believer in hanging clothes out to dry. I have a tumble dryer but only use it in the depths of winter when hanging clothes out is a waste of time or on an unexpectedly wet week. I do have LED bulbs for the most used lighting. Modern life is so geared to electrical gadgets though.

    • I agree, it was most definitely the wiring, so much better now. Our summer isn’t even here yet, but it was hot enough for the air conditioner a couple of weeks ago. We have a very long hot summer, so it is really really hard to live without one. I did when I was growing up and I remember many nights of not being able to sleep because of the heat.
      We love our solar and we have so many sunny days here in Australia, so it is worth having. Sounds like you are doing a lot now RJ, we did it more for the environment and the fact that our government will not go green. They are too corrupt and owned by the coal industry, so we made a choice to do it on our own. Thank you Rj.

  2. There is nothing we can do to our home to make it solar. It’s part of a townhouse condominium association. It was explored and thee cost of putting in solar panels would bankrupt the association.

    We have forced air heating and cooling. I live in the north east of the USA. Starting in October the outdoor temperatures drop below 15°C. Soon it’ll be below 4°C and stay that way until March. We’ll keep the home heated to about 20°C during the dash, maybe 21°C given that we are working from home. The computers, three of them since the kids are doing remote college, will be on all day. At night we’ll drop the thermostat to 16°C while we sleep under blankets.

    There is a respite in the spring when temperatures begin to rise when the central air conditioning does nothing. Then summer comes in July and August, temperatures hover between 32°C and 37°C and humidity hits 100%, and the air conditioning works non-stop. Each year an average of about 658 people die of heat stroke, 65% from non-exercise induced cases.

    So what can we do?

    • That is a shame Khürt, though I have heard of schemes that might start up where you can invest in solar somewhere else and it will offset your home. Not sure how it works though.
      What is forced air and heating? I’ve never heard of that.

      I couldn’t imagine living somewhere where it gets that cold all the time. It gets to below zero here, but rarely and only overnight. Our temps during the day are warmer.

      I am so glad we don’t get that humidity, we get the heat, but not that. Occassionally we get it, but I have noticed with time and as our climate changes we are seeing more and more humid days.
      I don’t know Khürt, I guess if you want to look at ways to reduce power then you can look at appliances. That is something we have done. Also look at where you get your power from, are they green?
      Thanks Khürt interesting.

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