You've got the keys to your new pad and are thinking about ways to make your home more energy efficient. Installing roof-mounted solar panels and getting your loft insulated are major decisions, but there are also a number of projects you can tackle straight away that will not only keep your gas and electricity bills to a minimum but also help turn your house into a home.
1. Window dressing
With the potential to cause heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer, it’s essential windows are factored into energy-savings plans for your new home. Insulation is the key here, so install curtains or roller blinds that provide complete coverage from the top of the window to the sill or the floor, and stop draughts at the source by installing coverings within the window recess or from a boxed pelmet. These simple steps can reduce seasonal heat exchange by almost half.
You don’t need to compromise on aesthetics to take advantage of this energy-saving tip, but it’s worth remembering that woven and opaque materials are the most effective, while light-coloured backing will reflect the sun’s energy, helping minimise heat gain inside during summer.
Being able to adjust your window coverings is also important, allowing you to react to the outside world and control how much daylight you let in. Be aware that north-facing windows have the biggest potential for heat gain so keep you curtains or blinds open or closed between 10am and 3pm (when the sun is at its most intense) depending on whether you want to warm your home or keep it cool.
2. Faultless floors
Laying a carpet or rug will not only keep your feet warm, it will also help save money by insulating your floors. In addition, a thick layer of underlay beneath these coverings will further improve their insulating qualities. Heat can also escape from the gap between your floor and your skirting boards. Filling that gap with a tube of sealant is a cheap, quick and easy solution.
3. Banish draughts
Draughts can increase your heating and cooling bills by 25 per cent so make sealing gaps around doors and windows your number-one job. Even if you’re furnishing your new home on a tight budget you can take advantage of affordable supplies from your local hardware store.
You can even create your own door snake to reduce draughts at the bottom of exterior doors using a rolled-up towel or by stuffing a tube of cloth with dried beans or pulses. For a permanent solution, install a plastic or metal door seal with a wiper at the bottom of the door.
Door and window edges can be insulated using self-stick weather stripping. Simply cut the strip to the length you require using scissors. To find other gaps and draughts in your home, burn a stick of incense and watch where the smoke flows. Skirting boards and areas where pipes and cables exit the house, or where heaters and air conditioners are installed, are all common culprits. The solution? Small gaps can be filled with silicone sealant, while larger gaps are best filled with expanding polyurethane spray foam.
Furnishings aren’t the only items that can help reduce your gas and electricity bills; the right energy plan might also help you save money. Find a scheme that suits your needs using EnergyAustralia’s free online estimator.