How some modest home renovations could cut your energy costs in half

Dec 08, 2023
With the impending arrival of scorching summer days, the pursuit of a cool and comfortable home takes centre stage for many. Source: Getty Images.

A recent report suggests that sprucing up older homes in Australia could lead to significant savings, potentially slashing annual energy bills by more than $2000.

The study, released by Monash University on December 6, reveals that a bit of TLC for older homes could see residents cutting their energy costs in half with relatively simple renovations.

The Climate-Ready Homes report points to the prospect of saving up to $2195 per year by incorporating energy-efficient upgrades like better insulation and adopting more eco-friendly appliances. While these potential savings are promising, the report underscores the importance of government support at both state and federal levels to ensure widespread household efficiency improvements.

Anna Skarbek, Chief Executive of Monash University Climateworks Centre, unveiled the report at Parliament House in Canberra, emphasizing that these findings not only lighten the financial load for households but also contribute to reducing environmental pollution.

“Supporting home upgrades can help reduce energy bills and prepare homes for more frequent extreme temperatures while reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change,” she said.

The report looked into 16 prevalent home designs found across Australia, encompassing five house types, six townhouse varieties, and five apartment styles.

Researchers explored three tiers of renovation geared towards enhancing energy efficiency, spanning from quick fixes to more modest adjustments to full climate-ready transformations.

Homes constructed prior to 2003, before the implementation of minimum energy-efficiency standards, were identified as prime candidates for improvements. Recommendations included installing insulation in ceilings, floors, and walls, incorporating heavy drapes or roller shutters on windows, utilizing electric heat pumps, and adopting double-glazing. Additional enhancements involved the replacement of gas with electric appliances for hot water and cooking, as well as the addition of rooftop solar panels.

The report highlighted the potential for households to achieve up to a 51 per cent reduction in energy costs with a comprehensive suite of upgrades. This translates to an average annual savings of $2195 in houses, $1476 in townhouses, and $1188 in apartments.

With the impending arrival of scorching summer days, the pursuit of a cool and comfortable home takes centre stage for many. Soaring temperatures can transform your living space into an uncomfortable sauna, underscoring the importance of discovering effective methods to stay ahead of the heat while also ensuring your power bills don’t skyrocket.

If you’re looking to reduce your energy bills and escape the scorching heat, there are a number of simple strategies and tips to keep your home refreshingly cool during the sizzling summer months without going to extremes. 

CHOICE’s cooling expert, Chris Barnes has suggested a number of tips and tricks you can use to keep costs and the temperature down.

  • Choose your air conditioner’s temperature carefully

According to Barnes, cranking your air conditioner to near arctic temperatures might appear like the perfect solution to escape the heat, but this approach can lead to skyrocketing energy costs and gradual wear and tear on your air conditioner’s motor.

“To get better efficiency from your air conditioner, try and keep the temperature difference to around 8°C. So, on a 32°C day, set your air conditioner to around 24°C. We recommend doing this as each degree cooler adds about 10% to your air con running costs, so overtime that will add up,” Barnes suggests.

“Keeping your air conditioner clean will also ensure it’s more effective at cooling your home. By cleaning the filter regularly and checking that everything is working well, you can ensure your air conditioning lasts all through summer.”

  • Rely on fans to beat the heat 

Ceiling and pedestal fans provide an excellent and budget-friendly cooling solution, especially for those who are renting or have budget constraints preventing them from installing air conditioning.

“We found keeping your fan on 24/7 over the summer would only cost a measly $30! Plus, if you use your fan alongside your air conditioning, it will circulate the air more effectively, giving your air con a break and saving you more,” Barnes explains.

  • Monitor indoor-outdoor temperatures with a thermometer 

Harnessing the power of the environment is a budget-friendly and energy efficient method to maintain a cool atmosphere in your home.

“We recommend using an indoor-outdoor thermometer to monitor the temperature difference,” Barnes suggests.

“If it’s cooler outside than inside, open up all your doors and windows, and if it’s hotter outside, close everything.”

  • Use your dishwasher at night 

For a cooler environment, especially during the warmer months, it’s advisable to operate your dishwasher at night if you have one.

“Dishwashers can generate a lot of heat, so by putting it on before you go to bed, you can avoid dealing with a warmer kitchen throughout the day,” Barnes says.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO: This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

-with AAP.

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